JUPITER – Jay Gibbons spent seven seasons in the majors, but admitted Monday that he was as jittery as a rookie when he showed up for spring training with the Marlins. It’s not hard to understand why.
Gibbons hasn't played in the majors since 2007. That’s the year his life turned upside down. He hit .230, his name ended up in the Mitchell Report, and he later admitted to receiving Human Growth Hormone. The Orioles cut him at the end of spring training last year even though he was still owed $12 million for the final two years of his contract.
“I’m excited. I’m nervous,” said Gibbons, who signed a minor-league contract but is given a strong chance of sticking with the Marlins as a fourth outfielder. “It feels like I’m a rookie again.”
Gibbons said hitting .230 in ’07 had more do with missing all of ’08 at the big-league level than did the allegations and subsequent admission, which landed him a 15-day suspension – a penalty that he said was erased last year.
“I played terrible,” Gibbons said. “If I hadn’t played terrible in ’07, I would have had a job in ’08.”
Of course, Gibbons was paying close attention when Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids following a Sports Illustrated report that he tested positive for steroids in 2003.
“The whole thing’s sad to me,” Gibbons said. “You’ve got the greatest player in the game. I have to say I feel for him a little bit.”
Gibbons told reporters he wants to put his past behind him and receive a fresh start.
“It does feel like it’s been a long time since I played,” he said. “It was definitely hard to watch on TV (last season). It was a tough year in that aspect.”