Indians believe MLB is ready for gay athletes

Veterans like Giambi applaud NBA's Collins for revealing sexual orientation

KANSAS CITY -- Jason Giambi remembers a time not too long ago when having an opening gay teammate might not have gone over too well in a baseball clubhouse. The Indians' veteran believes those days are over.

On Monday, NBA player Jason Collins came out as the first active athlete to be openly homosexual in the four major American pro team sports. The 42-year-old Giambi said he believes Major League Baseball would be ready for a similar revelation from one of its players.

"I applaud him," Giambi said of Collins. "That's probably been weighing on his soul for a long time. I'm happy that he's happy, because life's tough enough. If that's what makes him happy, I'm excited for it. I definitely think times have changed, there's no doubt. There's a place for a gay baseball player, or an alternative lifestyle, however you want to put it. There's room.

"I know this is a good ol' boy's game, but it's definitely changed. Society has changed. People have opened themselves up more to it."

Cleveland reliever Vinnie Pestano called Collins courageous for coming out. The pitcher added that he would have no issues with having a gay teammate.

"If I had a gay teammate," Pestano said, "the only thing I'd worry about is can he hit, if he's a position player. Or does he get outs, if he's a pitcher. That's the only thing that matters to me. What somebody does in their own personal life is their business. It's not going to affect me. That's just how I feel about it."

Indians manager Terry Francona echoed that sentiment.

"I don't know if it's just our game of baseball," Francona said. "I think you're talking about life in general, which is probably more important. I've never thought about it, because if you have an Indians uniform on, and you can hit, or you can pitch, that's what we care about. That, and behaving yourself. That's what's important to me."

Giambi said baseball players might not have been as openly accepting 10-15 years ago.

"There's no doubt it'd be tougher," Giambi said "It was a different game back then. But I think the game is ready."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.