Giambi returns to New York to face the Yankees for the first time since rejoining the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.
When New York (7-6) signed Giambi to a $120 million, seven-year contract after the 2001 season, it had been in five of the last six World Series, winning four championships. Giambi had followed up his 2000 AL MVP season with Oakland with 38 homers and 120 RBIs in 2001, before the Athletics (5-7) lost in the playoffs to the Yankees.
He started his Yankees tenure with back-to-back 41 homer seasons, helping the Yankees reach the 2003 World Series after a two-home run performance in a memorable Game 7 of the AL championship series against Boston. It marks New York’s last Fall Classic appearance.
There weren’t as many highlights for Giambi in subsequent years, as he was slowed by numerous injuries and dogged by steroid allegations that culminated in a pair of apologies to fans.
The Yankees opted to give Giambi a $5 million buyout this past offseason rather than a $22 million salary for 2009. He signed a $5.25 million, one-year contract with Oakland in January.
Giambi is looking forward to his return and the experience of playing in the new Yankee Stadium.
“I spent seven years with them, and I made a lot of great friends there,” Giambi told the Athletics’ official Web site. “The town was great, and the fans were unbelievable, so it’ll be fun to go back.”
Giambi hit 94 homers with New York at the old Yankee Stadium, but might find the new park even more to his liking. That’s because the Yankees and Cleveland Indians combined for 20 homers in the first series at the $1.5 billion stadium as New York split four games.
Jorge Posada hit a disputed go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning for the Yankees in a 7-3 win Sunday in the series finale. It was his second homer of the series, with Melky Cabrera and Mark Teixeira also hitting two in the four games.
“The last two days the wind was blowing out, so today was a bit more normal,” Posada said.
Teixeira, who has replaced Giambi as the Yankees’ slugging first baseman, also had four RBIs in the series after driving in three total runs in his first six games with New York. He’s still off to a slow start overall, with a .206 batting average.
Giambi is hitting .227 with no homers and five RBIs as he gets ready to face former teammate Andy Pettitte (1-0, 2.51 ERA) for the first time since 2001. He is 7-for-25 with no homers in his career versus Pettitte.
Pettitte will make his first start in the new ballpark. He has pitched well in his first two road outings, not receiving a decision Wednesday at Tampa Bay after allowing three runs over 7 1-3 innings in a 4-3 victory.
The veteran left-hander is 10-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 19 career starts versus the A’s.
Oakland has lost three out of four and will start Dana Eveland (0-0, 6.75) on Monday. Eveland allowed five runs over 4 2-3 innings Tuesday in a 6-5, 12-inning home win over Boston.
The left-hander has faced the Yankees once, yielding two runs in six innings of a 3-1 home loss June 10, 2008.