With May in full swing and roughly two months before the first trade deadline, it's no longer early for the Oakland A's 2009 reunion tour with Jason Giambi to take off.
So far Giambi's return to the team he broke in with is a bust.
The San Francisco Chronicle's best columnist, Bruce Jenkins, described it as "pangs of regret surrounding Jason Giambi, Nomar Garciaparra, and Eric Chavez."
Garciaparra and Chavez, and their bagful of injuries, was to be expected. They were both pennies tossed into a wishing well at best.
Giambi is the one who is truly regretted so far, yet anyone within the organization would be loathe to say it out loud.
I'll say it. His numbers so far look positively Daric Bartonian, and his defense looks like, well, himself.
The lovefest, round two, began again when Jason Giambi returned to Oakland, put his head on GM Billy Beane's shoulder and said how good it was to be back.
Soon we were reading about how he enjoyed helping guys, even pitchers (contain the chuckle), with his leadership skills in an MLB.com story.
Giambi was quoted how he would get back to hitting to all fields and showing his all-around skills that had diminished into a dead-pull hitter offering little else while collecting $120 million in New York.
Then Giambi was the last player to report to camp, though club officials went out of their way to say he wasn't late, he just didn't work out on the first day. He was apparently so stealth he avoided the press corps awaiting his arrival.
Ever since the apologists for the A's most popular player, both in the clubhouse and the manager's office, have been on guard, shielding him from criticism that with each passing day he seems to deserve even more.
Five games into the season Giambi begged out of a game complaining Mariners-victory" target="_blank">he was running too much.
The A's cleanup hitter is batting just .214, with three home runs. This comes after a relative hot streak where he hit two of those home runs and drove in nine RBIs.
Giambi's devoted followers in the clubhouse—they worship him like frat boys talk about the aging frat house leader—won't consider that Giambi perhaps is long past his prime.
"I don't think anybody is worried about Jason," Travis Buck said.
Well, inside the locker room perhaps. But outside, where the lights are on and the evidence is laid out plain on the field each day, concern has risen, perhaps even above the "pangs of regret" Jenkins so aptly describes.
May is critical for the A's. It's not early anymore.
They have a chance to compete if they can find an identity beyond a wistful look back to the fun days of Giambi's first tour of duty, when the Big Three dominated, the clubhouse rocked, and Chavez was a young, budding star.
But it looks more and more apparent that Giambi's role may be better in the clubhouse than on the field, where expectations of him being the everyday first basemen read like good fiction.