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Giambi misses New York, but having 'great time'

Colorado's Jason Giambi in the dugout at Citi

Colorado's Jason Giambi in the dugout at Citi Field. (Aug. 10, 2010) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Jason Giambi is no longer living the fast, big city life.

Formerly a hard-partying, grunge rock band-loving slugger with long, greasy hair (at least in Oakland) and cutoff T-shirts, Giambi, who hit 209 home runs in seven seasons with the Yankees, is now a 39-year-old platoon player for the Rockies with a sunny disposition and aging legs.

So it seemed fitting when Madonna's early 1980s hit song "Holiday" popped up while Giambi, who wasn't in the starting lineup last night, spoke to a small group of reporters in the Colorado clubhouse.

Giambi's time in Colorado has been like a vacation from his appearance on the Mitchell Report in December 2007, which followed his apology for nothing in particular in February 2005 (though most everyone knew it was for taking steroids).

No longer is he burdened with being one of the Yankees' stars during "the time between championships." And no longer is the former MVP, who signed a seven-year, $120-million deal with the Yankees in December 2001, expected to pump out 30-home run seasons in the Big Apple.

"The city's great. It's one of those places where, when I first got here, I was a California kid and then I got used to living the high-rise life," Giambi said. "I became one of you guys."

Does he miss the spotlight? Not a bit. In fact, the first thing he mentioned as the difference between New York and places such as Oakland, where he started his career, and Colorado, was the media following.

"I've played in Oakland, where you only have a few beat writers, and I've played where you have more media than you have players," Giambi said in reference to New York. "I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience it, but I'm having a great time here being in the role I'm in. It's been fun."

Though it may seem like ages ago for Yankees fans, Giambi is not even two full seasons removed from being in pinstripes, so it's not surprising he still keeps up with his old mates.

"I still talk to Joba [Chamberlain] and [Derek] and all those guys to find out how they're doing," Giambi said, adding that he also sent a congratulatory text message to Alex Rodriguez after his 600th homer. "I've got a lot of great friends on that ballclub."

Giambi, who is in his 16th big-league season, has endeared himself to his Colorado teammates, as well, serving as an elder statesman to an otherwise youthful squad. He, first-base platoon-mate Todd Helton and third baseman Melvin Mora are the only Rockies born before 1975.

And he can still play a little. Though he's added only three homers to his career total of 412 this season, he has proved to be a reliable pinch hitter - 6-for-23 with five walks, a homer and six RBIs in that role - for a team 61/2 games back in the NL West and five back in the wild-card race.

Giambi, who has appeared in 63 games this season, said, "It definitely comes down upon us now."

Or in Giambi's case, it partially comes down to him.

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