TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -To ensure Jason Giambi stays fresh, the Colorado Rockies have been careful with his playing time.
No sense wearing out the 38-year-old in March.
Giambi made his spring training debut Friday, flying out to center and taking a pitch off the forearm in the Rockies' 9-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Giambi also made a diving stop at first, stretching out his 6-foot-3 frame to rob pitcher Todd Wellemeyer of a hit.
Not bad for a player who had designs on being a designated hitter. Giambi tried to land a gig as a DH during the offseason, figuring that was the most resourceful way to spend what remained of his playing days.
But when that didn't pan out, Giambi elected to rejoin the Rockies, signing a one-year deal worth $1.75 million.
Plan B couldn't have worked out any better for him. He likes the way this club is taking form.
``You're starting to talk about something special in the making here,' Giambi said.
Giambi became a late catalyst for the Rockies last season after the team signed him following his release by Oakland. In 19 games with Colorado, he hit .292 with two homers and 11 RBIs, helping the team capture the National League wild card.
The Rockies also came to rely on his ability to produce in the clutch. He went 4 for 10 as a pinch hitter with one homer and seven RBIs.
When Giambi was considering his options over the winter, manager Jim Tracy and first baseman Todd Helton placed calls to him, trying to convince him to join the club.
The full-court press worked.
``That means a lot to you as a player, when you get those guys on the phone and telling you how bad they want you to come back,' Giambi said. ``I'm grateful for it.'
Giambi will play a similar role this season, filling in for Helton and coming off the bench to pinch hit.
That sure beats being a full-time designated hitter, right?
``I enjoy playing in the field. It's fun,' Giambi said. ``DH is great, too, trust me. But when you're a DH, it's tougher to stay in the game a little bit. You go up and hit and that's it. You've got to find things to do to keep yourself occupied. In the NL, you're pretty much ready from the fifth inning on. You've got to keep your head in the game.'
Wellemeyer allowed two hits over four scoreless innings, bolstering his chances of earning the fifth spot in the Giants' rotation.
``Great effort by him,' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``You can tell he knows what he's doing out there.'
Before the game, the Rockies received some positive news concerning the back end of their bullpen when closer Huston Street and setup man Rafael Betancourt threw with no discomfort. Both have been closely monitored this spring due to right shoulder inflammation.
Street threw 20 pitches - all fastballs - in batting practice and said his outing couldn't have gone much better.
``I was hitting my spots and getting the good life, the good finish on my pitches,' said Street, who converted 35 of 37 save opportunities last season.
Street is hoping to throw in a simulated game Monday.
Betancourt tossed 30 pitches in a bullpen session with no irritation.
NOTES: Rockies LHP Jimmy Gobble remains hobbled by a left groin strain that he suffered Thursday when he overstrided on a pitch. He said the course of treatment for now is ice and rest. ... The Rockies will honor Dante Bichette in a pregame ceremony on April 26. Bichette hit .316 with 201 homers and 826 RBIs in seven seasons with Colorado. ... Nate Schierholtz and Buster Posey each drove in two runs for the Giants. ... Rockies reliever Manuel Corpas gave up four runs in an inning. His ERA this spring is 10.38.
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