CLEVELAND -- Jason Giambi did not waste any time in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon. The aging slugger offered at the first fastball he saw from Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins, dropping the baseball down the line and into shallow left field for an unlikely single.
For Giambi, the base hit was a long time coming.
With that flare off a former teammate, Giambi reached 2,000 hits for his career, becoming the 245th player in baseball history to achieve that milestone. The designated hitter was disappointed that the Indians dropped a 2-1 decision to New York, but that did not stop him from appreciating the moment.
"It's been a long journey," Giambi said. "With all the ups and downs and things I've gone through, it feels like 4,000. I'll definitely take it and I'll treasure it, for sure."
The 42-year-old Giambi has played in 19 Major League seasons between tours with the A's, Yankees, Rockies and Indians. Over the winter, he interviewed as a managerial candidate with Colorado, but that did not dim his desire to keep playing. The Indians inked him to a Minor League deal, but have carried him since Opening Day as a part-time DH, pinch-hitter and clubhouse leader.
Through 63 games for the Indians, Giambi has hit just .186, but he has contributed eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 172 at-bats.
Giambi -- a five-time All-Star and the American League Most Valuable Player in 2000 -- said he was thrilled to collect his 2,000th hit against Hawkins, who was a teammate of his with the Yankees in 2008.
"The thing that's going to be most special," Giambi said, "is who I got it off of in Troy, who I have the utmost respect for not only as a player, but as a human being. That's going to mean more to me over my career than that hit."
Giambi has come to terms with the fact that reaching 3,000 hits is unrealistic.
"I'll have a walker by the time that happens," he said with a laugh.