Generally in the game of baseball, when men are pushing 40, it becomes time to hang up the cleats and take up golfing, fishing, or pickleball down in Florida. It’s difficult to accept the natural progression of creaky bones, bad backs and sore knees, but it is what it is. They get older, stiffer, and have difficulty competing with all the scrappy 21-year-old up-and-comers.
Such is not the case with Brian Giles. In fact, he’s pretty sure he can still hit and field a baseball at the big league level.
The veteran 39-year-old outfielder has inked a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who invited him to big league camp. Giles, a career .291 hitter, batted just .191 over 61 games last season with the San Diego Padres before landing on the disabled list with a bruised right knee.
Well, it wasn't exactly bruised, it was arthritic, which seems to me an entirely different thing. And while it's true Giles just turned 39, and wasn't any good at 38, it's also true that he was outstanding at 37.
Here's a bit more from ESPN, with some facts and whatnot:
With Reed Johnson penciled in as the Dodgers' fourth outfielder behind Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Giles will mostly be used as a left-handed bat off the bench.
"We didn't sign him to play the outfield. We signed him to come off the bench and hit," Colletti told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "Is he going to play some? Probably. But we aren't going into this with the idea of him playing 100 or 120 games. We have four outfielders already. If somebody gets hurt and we need him to play a little bit, we'll see where we are at that point.''
Sources told ESPN The Magazine senior writer Buster Olney that if Giles makes the Dodgers, he will earn $550,000 in major league salary, with another $200,000 in possible performance bonuses. If he doesn't make the team at the end of spring training, he can ask for his release.
Let's assume for the moment that Giles is reasonably healthy. Will there be a single left-handed hitter an opposing manager would rather not see on the bench in the late innings of a close game?
I suspect there's a real good chance that Giles' knee just won't hold up this spring, and that we've seen the last of him. Which will cost the Dodgers almost nothing. But if the knee is good and he gives the Dodgers 150 plate appearances as their fifth outfielder and pinch hitter deluxe, he'll be a bargain.