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Giambi coming on strong at the plate

Giambi coming on strong at the plate

NEW YORK -- With two consecutive at-bats Tuesday night, Jason Giambi showed Padres lefty Randy Wolf that there's no room for error when the Yankees slugger comes to the plate.

Giambi first sent a curveball soaring over the right-field wall, then made Wolf pay for a fastball right down the middle, knocking a two-run homer to left-center field.

Lately, Giambi's made a habit of punishing pitchers for making mistakes. Since May 4, Giambi is batting .355 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

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"When I'm getting that one mistake, I'm not missing it," he said following New York's 8-0 victory.

Giambi's recent success has helped pull him out of an early season slump. The veteran came out of Spring Training with high expectations, only to struggle with a .150 batting average through his first 26 games.

But something sparked the slugger.

Giambi said he's been keeping it simple, just seeing the ball and getting into a good routine. He also credited his teammates for getting him the right pitches.

Batting sixth behind Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui -- who are hitting .326 and .325, respectively -- Giambi has been able to take advantage of his position in the lineup.

"It goes all the way down the line," Giambi said. "It definitely puts me in a good spot when those guys are on base and getting some pitches to hit."

And while Giambi was quick to note the accomplishments of his teammates, it's his own bat that's boosted the Yankees' offense.

"The last month, he's swinging the bat as well now as I've seen him swing in a long time," left-hander Andy Pettitte said. "I'm happy for him. I know that he was grinding the first month of the season and trying to get it right. He's worked extremely hard, and he's in the same boat as all of us. When you get it going, you want to ride it as long as you can."

Production at the plate has taken on even more importance for the Yankees, because the starting rotation took a blow when ace Chien-Ming Wang injured his right foot Sunday in Houston.

But Giambi doesn't appear to be slowing down, and manager Joe Girardi pointed to the slugger's health as an important bright spot.

"He's been healthy, he's been strong, he's running well, he's been playing good defense," Girardi said. "It's good to see guys come back when they've had some injury-plagued seasons -- to come back, rebound and do the things that you're used to seeing them do."

Giambi said it's because of Girardi's communication before camp that he's been able to stay in good shape. The manager told the veteran to come to camp prepared because he would play every day. And the hard work has paid off as Giambi's numbers continue to climb.

"I think Jason's just starting to play the way he's capable," the manager said.

Despite Girardi's high hopes for his first baseman during Spring Training, he said he's hesitant to set out limitations or numbers on what he thinks a player can do, because those predictions can be exceeded.

And good thing, because it's safe to say Giambi's performance during his past 34 games would have met those numbers and surpassed them as well.

Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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