Giambi filling mentor role for Rox very nicely

Giambi filling mentor role for Rox very nicely

Giambi filling mentor role for Rox very nicely
WASHINGTON -- Veteran Jason Giambi joined the Rockies in 2009 to help with a late-season playoff push, as a pinch-hitter and as a veteran advisor and sounding board, and he's kept coming back for that reason. He didn't sign up for this year's 31-51 record going into Friday night's game against the Nationals.

Giambi, 41, still is upholding his end of the bargain. Several of the younger players making an impact this season regularly turn to Giambi for advice on situational baseball.

"I do what I'm supposed to do," Giambi said. "Would I love to win? Yes. Who doesn't love to win? But at the same time, I've done my job, gotten some pinch-hits. I've helped Chris Nelson out, helped Jordan Pacheco out, helped Tyler Colvin out, Carlos Gonzalez when he needs some hitting advice, Wilin Rosario and I have talked.

"That's what I'm here for. The record doesn't reflect on what my job is or what my role here is. I put in just as much work now as if we were 80-20 or 81-0. That would be in a perfect world, but there are things I can do to help these young kids speed up their learning curves and work with them on their swing and their approaches, and work with them mentally."

Before the Rockies put together winning seasons a few years back, one criticism was young players were more intent on merely proving they belonged in the Majors than learning how they fit on a winning club. The players that stuck, however, followed Todd Helton's quiet leadership, and eventually wins came.

Giambi has been vocal about avoiding that approach or developing any losing mentality, which would lengthen the development process. Missed opportunities to move runners, or poor, impatient at-bats are usually followed by words from Giambi.

It hasn't shown in the team's record, but the younger hitters Giambi mentioned have received high marks for situational hitting.

"It can be tough, mentally, when you're not winning games, because we don't want to get in the set pattern that it's easy to lose," Giambi said. "I work with them every day. 'Let's go. Put some more runs on the board. We didn't win yesterday, we're going to win today. We've got to keep that attitude.' We don't want to get away with, 'Oh, it doesn't matter,' because it does matter.

"We're not worried about our record. We're learning to play baseball. That's going to serve us well in the future."

Last year, Giambi and Helton were the ones who called team meetings when they felt selfishness was an issue. This year, the issue is a lack of pitching maturity. Although the club continues to produce better at home than on the road, there is a feeling that the approach is improving.

It's possible Giambi could end up being traded to a contending club, either before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline or in a waiver deal after that point, but whether he stays or goes, manager Jim Tracy knows he has been a valuable member of his club.

"Jason has been in the middle of [improving the approach], and spearheaded some of that mentality in our clubhouse, and you can't say enough about that," Tracy said. "When you have a situation when we're 20 games under .500, you would anticipate finger pointing. We don't do things like that, and we haven't done any of that.

"We continue to come out and play hard. We know that at some point, something's going to come along that's going to be a mistake that necessitates teaching, talking, talking through it and understanding that there's a better way of doing this, and the next time it comes up, remember that."