08/06/11 12:55 AM ET
Giavotella brings swagger, talent to KC
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
That comes with leading the Minor Leagues with a big bag of 153 hits. He's just shifting his venue to the Major Leagues.
And it was a seamless shift as, in his Royals debut in Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Tigers, Giavotella banged two hits including a double, drove in a key run, stole a base and walked.
"I'd say I'm a pretty competitive hitter," he said before the game. "I don't give at-bats away, no matter what the count or the situation or the pitcher. I'm going to go up there with confidence that I'm going to get a hit and I'm going to succeed in the at-bat."
He succeeded at the Triple-A level to the tune of a .338 average along with 34 doubles, nine home runs, 72 RBIs and 67 runs scored.
Giavotella, 24, comes to Kansas City to play second base. And he will play.
"I'll play him most days, we've got to look at him," manager Ned Yost said. "He's here to play, we need to see what we've got at the big league level. We've got seven weeks left, he's going to get his share of playing time."
If there are questions about his defense, Giavotella has an answer.
"I think my defense is up-and-coming," he said. "There's no doubt I need work there, I know that as well as anybody else and I'm not shying away from it. I work every day at it and I'm constantly trying to get better."
Originally, general manager Dayton Moore and Yost had talked about promoting Giavotella after Sunday's game against Detroit, which would have meant beginning his big league career on the road at Tampa Bay. But they changed their minds after Thursday night's game and moved immediately.
Why is "Gio" here?
"Because he's hitting .338. He can hit, he's an offensive second baseman," Yost said. "Defense, we'll see. He's very solid, can make all the routine plays, not extremely rangy but a very tough, hard-nosed kid out there. He can turn two. We'll see."
Yost paused a moment and went back to reason No. 1.
"He can really swing it, they say," he said.
On the infield, Giavotella joins shortstop Alcides Escobar, who arrived from Milwaukee in last winter's Zack Greinke trade; first baseman Eric Hosmer, who arrived from Omaha on May 6, and third baseman Mike Moustakas, who arrived from Omaha on June 10. This, of course, could be the Royals' infield for years to come.
"It could be," Yost said. "This will be a real important seven weeks to determine how we're going to set up to come into Spring Training. Moose has got to continue to grow and Johnny's going to get an opportunity. We're pretty sure that Escobar and Hosmer are going to be there and it's a chance to see where we are with the other two guys. And it makes it much more illuminated when you get a seven-week look at one kid [Giavotella] and a three-month look at the other one [Moustakas]."
Giavotella, a second-round 2008 Draft choice from the University of New Orleans, played with Moustakas and Hosmer in the Minors.
"Coming up the ranks with these guys was kind of a long, grueling process, but I'm very proud of Moose and Hoz and I'm sure they're proud of me today," he said.
So, too, was pitcher and former Omaha teammate Everett Teaford.
"The guy works so hard, plays the game harder than a lot of people I've ever seen," Teaford said. "He runs hard 90s every time down to first, plays hard from pitch one for the final out. The hard-nosed, scrappy kind of guy that everybody likes. That's Gio."
Giavotella got the word of his promotion on Thursday night at Omaha.
"It's been very crazy, very hectic. Everything just happened so fast. I called my parents, obviously, and it was very emotional They're here tonight so I'm pretty excited to have them see me play," he said.
His parents, Johnny and Cindy, were among 10 or 11 family and friends in Kansas City from Louisiana for Friday night's game against the Tigers.
Giavotella worked his way through early batting practice with the Royals, a succession of media interviews in the clubhouse, regular batting and fielding practice. Then game time loomed.
"My nerves are through the roof right now," he said. "I'm very anxious, very nervous. At the same time I'm excited to be here. It's been a lifelong dream to play in a Major League ballpark for a Major League team and I'm going to accomplish my dream tonight."
Hosmer told him he'd calm down when he fielded his first ground ball and, sure enough, that happened in the Tigers' first.
"I definitely had some jitters coming into the game, some butterflies here and there but after that first ball, I kind of calmed down and settled in and felt comfortable out there," he said.
In his first at-bat in the second inning, Giavotella hit a shot to the second baseman that became a double play. But it was different in the fifth when the right-handed hitter spanked a double down the right-field line and into the corner against Tigers starter Rick Porcello for his first Major League base hit.
"I looked up at my dad and he gave me a little fist pump and I gave one back to him," Giavotella said. "So it was a nice moment."
And Gio looked completely relaxed in the seventh when he punched a run-scoring single into right field, prompting Porcello's removal during the Royals' three-run rally. He not only got his first RBI, but also scored his first run. Along the way, he executed a swan dive into third base as he moved up on Moustakas' single.
"I like doing that, I like getting dirty," he said.
In the ninth, a couple more firsts -- a walk and a stolen base -- were added to his list. In the field, he handled all six chances that came his way and spun a turn on a double play.
Afterward, he had four baseballs at his locker as mementoes of his various firsts.
One Major League first, though, he missed -- a victory.
"We almost had it," he said. "So we'll go get one tomorrow."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.