Jason Giambi Offically Retires From MLB

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After 20 seasons, Jason Giambi has officially retired as an MLB player.

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Although it was speculated for months, Giambi confirmed his retirement this afternoon, penning a thank-you letter published by the New York Daily News. In the letter, Giambi thanked his family, friends and colleagues in the game. Giambi had spent the past two seasons as the Cleveland Indians’s designated hitter as well as a de facto player coach.

He spent the first seven years of his career with the Oakland Athletics, making two All-Star games and was the 2000 American League MVP and the runner-up the following year. Giambi then signed a staggering $120-million, seven-year deal with the New York Yankees, where he was an All-Star from 2002 through 2004.

Giambi briefly rejoined the Athletics in 2009, but was released in August and latched on with the Colorado Rockies. He spent the next three seasons with the Rockies, and interviewed for their then-vacant manager’s job following the 2012 season. Giambi was considered by Colorado, but the Rockies hired Walt Weiss instead, offering Giambi the hitting coach position.

Jul 10, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) talks with Cleveland Indians president Mark Shapiro (left), manager Terry Francona (second from left) and designated hitter Jason Giambi (25) during a pre-game ceremony honoring Jeter at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Giambi didn’t want to be seen as a looming potential replacement for Weiss (who was on a one-year contract), so he instead took a flier on joining the Indians for Spring Training in 2013, and quickly became a trusted and valuable asset to manager Terry Francona. Though his production wasn’t always pretty, the Indians and Francona loved Giambi’s attitude and experience and felt he was a positive and helpful presence for a young clubhouse.

He also hit one of the more improbable home runs in recent Cleveland history, helping the team to the 2013 playoffs:

Giambi’s career wasn’t made up of universal praise; Giambi admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs early in his career in December 2003 as part of the investigations into the BALCO scandal which eventually took down fellow slugger Barry Bonds. Perhaps in part because he was truthful about his use, Giambi never faced the public scorn players such as Bonds, Roger Clemens and others did.

Giambi’s thank-you letter didn’t mention any players or executives specifically by name, but he did offer thanks to the four teams he played for in his career:

“Ever since I was five years old, all I ever wanted to be was a Major League Baseball player,” Giambi wrote. “The Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians were a big part of helping that dream come true.”

Jun 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi (25) watches the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Indians defeated the Rangers 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Though he gave no indication of any plans following his retirement (the Indians have offered Giambi a non-playing role in the organization), Giambi concluded his letter in a fashion fitting of someone who has been in the game for 20 years and seen its highest highs and lowest lows:

“Lastly, to the game of baseball: I started playing you when I was a kid and I’m leaving you a man. Thank you.”

From all of us covering the Indians at Wahoo’s on First, thanks for the memories, Big G, and grab your beer next time you’re in Cleveland.

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