Giambi meets with Torre, Cashman

Giambi meets with Torre, Cashman

NEW YORK -- One day after saying he would stick with the struggling Jason Giambi in the lineup, manager Joe Torre benched him in favor of Bernie Williams against the Mariners.

But Giambi's night off wasn't the big news of the day at Yankee Stadium. Instead, it was a meeting between Giambi, Torre and general manager Brian Cashman, as the three men discussed what it will take to get the former American League MVP back to his previous form.

"Part of my job as general manager is to make sure that everything is being done behind the scenes to get somebody going in the right direction," said Cashman, who refused to go into the specifics of the meeting. "That was the main purpose of this meeting, to explore all of those avenues."

"If he gets better, then we get better," Torre said. "I certainly want to make him better as an individual, because if that happens, it translates into another weapon for us."

One baseball official with knowledge of the meeting termed it "an informational session," but the idea of having Giambi work out his hitting woes in the Minors was brought up during the 30-minute meeting.

"We touched on it, but not really," Giambi said. "They wanted to know where my mind-set was. I'm not excited with where I am, but I'm going to work to climb out of it."

Both Giambi and Torre said after Tuesday's game that the player was not asked to go accept a Minor League assignment.

"We talked about a lot of things. We never put anything to him like that," Torre said. "The only thing that is going to make him good is getting back out there and getting some hits. He doesn't feel that bad, he's just frustrated. That's one thing we all agreed on. We're frustrated for him."

Before the meeting, which took place between the end of batting practice and the beginning of Tuesday night's game, Torre said that he hoped that the meeting with Giambi would produce a plan of attack to get the slugger back on track. That plan, apparently, is to let him work on his swing with hitting coach Don Mattingly during batting practice to get back in to what the manager called "playing condition."

Torre said that Giambi wouldn't start on Wednesday against Seattle lefty Jamie Moyer, but hinted that he would be back in the lineup on Friday night in Oakland.

"He's got a lot of things to deal with right now," Torre said. "Hopefully we can help him along, simplify it and get him back to where he can be a help for us."

Torre indicated that he would like to see Giambi get some time playing first base, giving him a chance to get a feel for the game. That time is unlikely to come with the Yankees, meaning that an assignment to work out the kinks in the Minors is a possibility.

For Giambi to go to the Minors, he would have to clear waivers and accept the assignment, given his nine-plus years of Major League service time. Cashman refused to say whether a Minor League assignment was discussed during the meeting.

"The only thing that was discussed was to continue having him do pregame work at first base," Cashman said. "I can't predict what's going on in the future or what we might do. Our interests are the same, which is to get him going. We're going to explore every opportunity to try to do so. He projected a very strong, positive belief in himself that he's going to get it going."

"We didn't really discuss that at all," said Giambi. "I'm going to do my best work up here. I'm going in the right direction. I'm working my butt off and that's all I can keep doing."

Giambi is hitting .195 with three homers and six RBIs this season, and he is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. His last home run came on April 19, and although he has walked 18 times, he has struck out 29 times this season.

"I'm not happy with where my average is. Anybody that said they are would be wrong," Giambi said. "I know I'm doing everything I can to get out of it, which is to work hard. Hopefully it will start paying off."

Giambi has been working with Mattingly on a new approach at the plate. Instead of trying to hit balls to the opposite field, Giambi is now working to pull everything he sees in order to generate more power and make contact more often.

"Trying to hit everything the other way, I felt like I was tying myself up a little bit at the plate," Giambi said. "I'm still taking my walks, but I've been striking out way too much. We made the adjustment to get the bat head on the ball a little more instead of thinking so much about going the other way."

"It becomes more of an aggressive approach," Torre said. "You try to do something to stimulate a little more life in your hands. Go out there and get the ball, we're trying to get that thought going."

Giambi, who has battled a forearm injury in the past two weeks and was hit in the head by a pitch last Wednesday, was dropped to eighth in the batting order on Monday night, going 0-for-3. It was the first time Giambi hit in the No. 8 spot since he was with Oakland in 1997. The home fans booed him after each at-bat, especially after his strikeout ended the seventh inning with the game tied at 3.

"I was playing really well, but over the past couple of weeks, I've struggled," Giambi said before the meeting. "I'll just keep working as hard as I can with Donnie, try not to get down. I still have minimal at-bats, so three or four good games can change the whole perception. That can get me going again, get me back on track."

"Every single day takes on more baggage," Torre said. "He certainly is used to hitting third, fourth or fifth in the lineup, and now, hitting eighth -- as agreeable as he is -- it's taking a shot to the ego a little bit."

Giambi's contract calls for him to earn approximately $75-80 million from now until the end of the 2008 season, but Torre insists that he has not been told to keep him in the lineup as a result of the contract. At 34 years old, Giambi is hardly over the hill, a fact that Torre is quick to point out.

"We're going to continue working at it to try to start getting positive results," Cashman said. "He hasn't performed on the field. He started out OK, but he's gone backwards since some point in April and he's having trouble getting it going again."

"He doesn't think he's that far away," Torre said. "We hope that by the time we get off this road trip, we'll see a different guy."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.