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Despite slump, Giambi still valuable to Indians

Despite slump, Giambi still valuable to Indians

BOSTON -- The Indians are not overly concerned that veteran Jason Giambi is mired in one of the worst slumps of his storied career. The aging slugger was not brought in to compete for a batting title. He is on the roster to offer experience, advice and the occasional clutch hit.

Indians manager Terry Francona has stressed that point since the start of Spring Training.

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"Before he steps in the batter's box, he's already valuable," Francona said. "I know he's not happy with where his batting average is, I get that, but he's smart enough to know what he can do. He's not going to sulk around here.

"You watch. He'll get some hits and he'll help us win a game. He just has to put up with the aggravation of looking at his batting average right now, which he's strong enough to do."

Entering Saturday, the 42-year-old was stuck in an 0-for-24 slump that dates back to May 9. It marks the third-longest drought of his 19-year career. Giambi went 32 at-bats without a hit from July 11, 2004-Sept. 17, 2004, and 25 at-bats without a hit from Aug. 24, 2003-Sept. 3, 2003.

Through 18 games with Cleveland, Giambi is batting .150 (9-for-60) with two home runs and 12 RBIs.

"His contributions go way further than just what you see in his stat line," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "He knows his job on this team. He wasn't brought in to hit .400 with 40 bombs. The guy is a good lefty power option off the bench, but what he also brings to the team is his experience and leadership. His knowledge that he passes along throughout the game, it's like having another coach on the bench.

"If he's 0-for-1, he might see something or pick up something on the pitcher that leads to hits for the younger guys. He doesn't have to do it all himself. His experience is what helps us the most."

Francona laughed when asked if Giambi's slump was the result of the veteran's age.

"No," Francona said. "I'll tell you what. Ask me that when he's 44. I actually think he's got himself in position lately where his bat speed is better."

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.

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