Giavotella is ready for the challenge at second
JAN 29, 2013 10:26a ET
They voice it on sports-talk radio, on blogs, on Twitter, you name it.
They root for Giavotella because he is the only offensive hope at perhaps the organization's weakest position.
In 2010, Giavotella hit .322 with nine homers and 65 RBIs at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. A year later at Triple-A Omaha, he hit .338 with nine homers and 72 RBIs. Last year, he hit .323 with 10 homers and 71 RBIs in just 89 games at Triple-A.
The potential, of course, seems there.
And those are especially enticing numbers to the fan base when you consider that the Royals' incumbent at second base, Chris Getz, is anything but an offensive threat. Getz is only a .257 career hitter and he hasn't homered in 918 major-league at-bats, the longest active homerless streak in the major leagues.
No wonder fans are begging for Giavotella.
The problem is, while the second-base job has been open for competition over the last year, Giavotella has done nothing to claim it.
Giavotella has hit a pedestrian .242 in 99 major-league games through two seasons. And he has shown barely more pop in his bat than Getz. Giavotella has just three homers in 379 major-league plate appearances.
Defensively, a sticking point for manager Ned Yost, hasn't exactly helped Giavotella's cause, either. His range has been questionable, he already has committed 11 errors and he has a so-so .970 fielding percentage.
When Getz and Giavotella went head-to-head last spring training, Getz was the easy winner. Giavotella was shipped out to the minors with well over a week to go in camp after hitting just .250 through 44 at bats.
Giavotella, again, will get his shot this spring to win the job. Yost has declared an open competition for the spot, and Giavotella vows he'll be ready.
"Oh, I'm definitely ready," he said. "I've been working very hard in the off-season. I'm ready to go and win the job."
There is one problem, though: Giavotella admits he's a habitually slow starter.
"Honestly, I'm just not a good spring-training player," he said. "That doesn't really work in my favor. I've got to find a way to get going a little quicker in spring. I just hope that with hard work it will turn out a little differently somehow."
Giavotella can't really explain why he's such a slow starter.
"I think it just takes me awhile to get going," he said. "Even in the first month of the season I've always just been kind of lingering around, hitting .260 or so. Once I get more comfortable as the season goes on, maybe a month or two into it, then I start to come on. I've always been like that.
"Once June and July hit, I usually start to peak."
Unfortunately, Giavotella doesn't have time to linger this spring. With Miguel Tejada in the mix, along with Brandon Wood, Irving Falu and 2010 first-round pick Christian Colon, there's a strong chance Giavotella could wind up back at Triple-A if he doesn't wow Yost and the coaching staff this March.
"Still, I'm not really going to try to do anything differently," Giavotella said. "If I just play within myself and not try to do too much, I think I'll be OK. I think maybe I get in trouble when I try to do too much. I need to just get good at bats and hopefully some balls fall in.
"I can't press and try to be someone I'm not. I just have to try to be consistent both offensively and defensively. Hopefully it'll work out this time."
There's also a personal side to the competition. Giavotella admits it is somewhat awkward competing with Getz for the starting job because the two have become friends.
"It's definitely a little weird but we both understand what is at stake," he said. "In that regard, we feed off each other. He's a great guy so it's never been a problem to ask him questions, either. He will give me advice and tell me if I'm doing something wrong. And I'll try to help him whenever I can."
Eventually, though, the friendship has to be pushed aside. Come April, there will only be one man standing with the starting job.
"It comes down to who plays better and who can help the team the most," Giavotella said. "I have to convince everyone I can be that guy."
Royals fans are hoping he can be that guy, too.
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