Giambi 'grateful' to still be playing baseball

Giambi 'grateful' to still be playing baseball

CLEVELAND -- Jason Giambi has joked with his wife that he will keep playing baseball until someone tears the uniform off his body. If someone ever tried to actually do that to the aging slugger, it would not be an easy task.

"I'd fight him first," Giambi said with a laugh.

On Tuesday, the 42-year-old Giambi spent time discussing the pinch-hit home run one night earlier that sent the Indians to a 3-2 victory over the White Sox. With his ninth-inning blast into the bushes beyond the center-field wall at Progressive Field, Giambi became the oldest player in baseball history to launch a walk-off.

Hammerin' Hank Aaron previously held that record.

"That's pretty unbelievable," Giambi said of breaking Aaron's mark. "It's unfathomable. I'm just grateful, and I thank God I'm still playing, to have this opportunity to be here."

Giambi signed a Minor League contract with the Indians shortly before Spring Training and needed a handful of roster decisions to align just right for him -- a pure designated hitter and pinch-hitter -- to crack the Opening Day roster. Giambi's season line (.194 average through 45 games) is not necessarily pretty, but he has been productive in his 124 at-bats.

"He kind of stays in the moment," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a good hitter. He's just got some mileage, so you can't really play him all the time. So you try to pick your spots where it's optimal for him, because he can still do some damage."

Entering Tuesday, Giambi was averaging one RBI per 5.17 at-bats, which ranked seventh among American League hitters with at least 120 at-bats. The six in front of him include Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, David Ortiz, Wil Myers and Mark DeRosa.

"I knew I could contribute," said Giambi, who had seven home runs and 24 RBIs heading into Tuesday's game. "The contribution sometimes, if you can put your ego in the back pocket, can be in different ways in this game that sometimes isn't on the scoreboard."

Francona has raved since the early stages of Spring Training about Giambi's leadership, but the manager said the veteran continues to raise the bar.

"He's been a blessing to everybody that's come in contact with him in the Indians organization," Francona said. "I was pleased that we were getting him. He was always one of my favorite guys ever since he was a young kid, but I didn't really know that he was this special."

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