Prior to last season, the Rockies interviewed Giambi for their managerial opening, but the National League club instead went with Walt Weiss. Still interested in continuing his playing career, Giambi was thrilled when Francona came calling with an opportunity for the aging slugger to provide Cleveland with a part-time designated hitter, pinch-hitter and clubhouse leader.
The 43-year-old Giambi jumped at the chance to not only keep playing, but to learn from Francona's approach to managing. Giambi has played for a distinguished list of managers that includes the likes of Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, among others.
In his two seasons with the Indians, Giambi said he has enjoyed witnessing how Francona bridges the gap between the clubhouse and manager's office.
"I've learned so much from him," said Giambi, who is playing in his 20th Major League season. "I've always had this vision, that I always felt like a manager could be friends with his players. A lot of times you're in that dynamic of, 'I'm the manager and you're the player.' There's usually not that crossover. You're over here and he's over there. Tito's in the middle, but he has good boundaries.
"He's very honest with you and lets you know where you stand, good or bad. By the time you leave a meeting, you end up shaking his hand when he's giving you bad news like, 'Sorry you had to tell me that, Tito.' He's so sincere and so heartfelt when he tells you stuff. He's just honest with you. I've always felt you could be that guy. It was refreshing and reaffirming that I wasn't wrong. I've had a chance to play for a guy who is exactly that."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.