Lisa Guerrero -- Jason Giambi on Joe Torre's book: 'It's hurtful'
While Joe Torre continues to plug his book, "The Yankee Years," in New York as the Dodgers winter caravan continues without him, feedback is still rolling in, this time from one of the players mentioned in the tell-all.
I spoke Wednesday with Jason Giambi, who certainly had mixed feelings about his former manager's decision to write it, something he's known about for quite a while because of a phone call he received from the publisher's fact-checker. These are his first public comments about the book.
"It's definitely hurtful," he told me. "When you play together that long, you're family. There's a certain trust involved. We were always like 'keep everything in-house, especially in New York with that media.' I was surprised to hear that he was writing a book ... he meant so much to that town. But from his point of view you can respect it. He had to get things off his chest," referring to Torre's bitter exit from the Yankees.
When I asked if writing the book violated the trust of his former team, Giambi said, "That's hard to answer. We were all going in the same direction, we were a family. I can see how other guys will be hurt by it."
Then Giambi offers, "It's hard to know what came from Verducci and what came from Torre," referring to Tom Verducci, who co-authored the book. "That guy was always hanging around."
In fact, while Torre writes that he was against signing Giambi because he saw him as a "defensive liability," it is Verducci who recounts his issue of performance-enhancing drugs that the five-time All-Star later apologized for.
Giambi doesn't seemed bothered by Torre's comments about him. "I'm OK with it. I knew what my job was. I came to New York to drive in runs."
He also thinks Torre's now infamous "A-Fraud" reference about Alex Rodriguez was meant to be, as the manager describes it, "tongue-in-cheek," rather than mean-spirited.
"Alex is the best player in the game," Giambi said. "People gravitate towards negativity with him because that's the only way you hold somebody down who's that good."
Giambi signed a one-year, $5.25-million contract this offseason with the Oakland Athletics, bringing him back to the team he played for from 1995 to 2001, winning the American League MVP along the way. He says the move brings him "full circle."
"At one point I was this hotshot rookie ... now I just want a shot to play. I'm excited that I got the chance to come back to the A's and play with this young team."
So Giambi's looking forward to new adventures with a new ball club rather than looking back at his Yankee experience with any kind of negativity, despite Torre's tell-all.
"Look, he's a great manager, he really is. I haven't talked to Joe about the book yet ... someday."
When I asked him if he'd ever consider writing a book himself, he laughed.
"I've been asked a million times, but I don't think I'm ready to share my demons and secrets. I don't know if the world's ready for it." Then he chuckles, "They'd never believe it anyway."
-- Lisa Guerrero
Lisa Guerrero has covered Super Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series, along with the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. As an actress, she has appeared on "Frasier" and "The George Lopez Show" and as Billy Baldwin's long-suffering wife in the film "A Plumm Summer," for which she was executive producer.
Photo: Jason Giambi, after being introduced to reporters at a news conference in Oakland last month. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press