By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: It wasn’t much of a hit. A flair that landed in short left field in the ninth inning, but it meant something special to the Indians’ Jason Giambi.
It was Giambi’s 2,000th hit, coming in his 19th major-league season and 2,226th game.
Giambi began his career as the designated hitter for the Oakland Athletics. In his debut, May 8, 1995, with Roger Pavlik on the mound for the Texas Rangers, Giambi led off the fifth with a single, his first major-league hit.
“I knew about this, because they told me two weeks ago,” Giambi said about taking so long to produce No. 2,000.
“What is meaningful about it is everything I went through and all the time it took to get here,” he said. “To me the biggest thing was getting it off LaTroy [Hawkins]. I have tremendous respect for him. That meant more than the hit. With all the things I’ve gone through, it feels like 4,000.”
Giambi has been known mostly for his power and run-producing ability than as a singles hitter. His top hit total is 181 in 1999 with the A’s.
“The hit got us started, but we didn’t get the win,” Giambi said. “But it still was an exciting day.”
Sunday’s single could have been the trigger that led to the tying run in a game won by the New York Mets 2-1. But pinch-runner Mike Aviles was thrown out trying to steal second, which sparked an argument with umpire Gary Darling that got Aviles thrown out of the game.
After that, Hawkins retired the side easily, inducing Lonnie Chisenhall to hit a fly to left and striking out Drew Stubbs.
The ball was recovered, and Giambi will take it home, but apparently he has no special plans to make it part of a shrine to his career.
“I’ll just keep it,” he said, when asked what he was going to do with the baseball.
At age 42, 3,000 hits is out of the question, unless Giambi gets a lot of help.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’ll have a walker by then.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.