Meeting the 2010 Los Angeles Dodgers: Who Is Jay Gibbons?
Jay Jonathan Gibbons was born in 1977 in Rochester, Mich. However, he spent the majority of his childhood in California, graduating from Mayfair High School in Lakewood. Following high school, Gibbons was a standout at UCLA.
The 6-foot, 205-pound outfielder was drafted in the 14th round of the 1998 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Following the 2000 season, the Baltimore Orioles claimed him in the Rule 5 draft. He made his major league debut on April 6, 2001. Gibbons rookie season with the Orioles in 2001 was off to a great start.
The young slugger had 15 home runs and 36 RBIs in 73 games before becoming hampered by a hand injury.
The following season, 2002, was a career-best for Gibbons. That season he hit 28 home runs for the Orioles,
In 2003, he followed up that performance with career highs in batting average (.277) and RBI (100). He was voted team MVP and many considered 2003 his break out season.
However, in 2004, the injury bug once again bit Gibbons. He appeared in just 97 games, a great reduction compared to the 160 games the year before. Gibbons collected just 47 RBIs while striking out 64 times.
The Orioles were convinced his declining numbers weren't due to just injuries. In his shortened playing time, he also struggled at the plate while not complaining of physical discomfort.
The lefty had LASIK eye surgery following the 2004 season, and his numbers improved immediately in 2005.
Gibbons smashed 135 hits in 139 games, re-emerging on the scene as a legitimate force at the plate. But it was short-lived.
The 2006 and 2007 seasons were once again plagued with injuries. Gibbons didn't play over 100 games in either season.
He was also named in the infamous Mitchell Report in late 2007 as a steroid user and was eventually released by Baltimore on March 29, 2008.
Left without a team and on the outside of the fringe having been linked to steroids, Gibbons spent four months from late March to late July as a free agent, before being given another shot by the Milwaukee Brewers.
However, he never appeared in a major league game for the franchise, and was again released in November.
Finally, in 2010, Gibbons impressed the Dodgers enough to be given an invitation to Spring Training. Gibbons took the invitation to heart, determined to reach the majors again to prove he could still compete.
While with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, Gibbons batted .347 in 94 games while hitting 19 home runs.
Thus far, you'd never guess Gibbons hasn't played in the majors since 2007, as he has found his way into two Dodger games, and it would be difficult for Gibbons to perform any better. He is 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBI (Gibbons' RBI single).
His current performance leaves Dodger fans pondering two questions: What took so long for the team to promote him? What would the season look like had he been called up much earlier?
In any event, the hometown kid may be here to stay, and is certainly making his case to cement a roster spot for the remainder of the season, and possibly into the future.
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