Griffey, Giambi win Comeback Player of the Year honors
NEW YORK (Ticker) - Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi were named the 2005 Major League Baseball Comeback Players of the Year, the league announced Thursday.
Griffey received 101,264 votes on MLB.com to win National League honors. The oft-injured center fielder batted .301 with 35 home runs - his most in five years - and 92 RBI in 128 games.
“It’s not one (award) you really want to have, as far as the things you have to go through to get it,” admitted Griffey, a former MVP. “But it’s one I will cherish forever because of the hard work I put in behind the scenes. (The team medical staff) had to put up with a lot with me physically and mentally. I’m tough sometimes, but I think everybody understands that I want to be the best I can be.”
Griffey’s homers and RBI this season surpassed the combined totals of his previous two years, when he was hobbled by hamstring and knee injuries.
Griffey did not make it through the 2005 campaign injury-free. He had arthroscopic knee surgery last month, ending his season three weeks early.
“I walked out of the hospital after the operation and got in the car, and I gave the crutches back after two days,” Griffey said. “This (recent surgery) was a minor thing.”
Giambi garnered 100,037 votes to receive the American League award. He had 32 homers and 87 RBI while leading the league with 108 walks and a .440 on-base percentage.
In 2004, Giambi batted a career-low .208 with 12 homers and 40 RBI as he battled injuries, an intestinal parasite and steroid allegations. The former MVP was on the verge of being sent to the minor leagues early this season before turning things around.
“When we started spring training, knowing what went on last year and over the wintertime, I really didn’t know what to expect and I certainly didn’t expect the power numbers to come back as quickly as they did,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
“I know the players were all happy for him because for a long time, he really wasn’t getting it done, and they knew how hard he was working,” Torre added. “So I’m just very pleased for him.”
This is the first year that the league officially has sanctioned the award. Six players from each league were nominated by the editorial staff at MLB.com and representatives of the league.