Jay Gibbons would like to open his eyes on the morning of March 31 and see himself on the Dodgers 25-man roster and he has endured a series of eye-related issues procedures in order to get there.
Drafted in 1998 in the 14th round by the Toronto Blue Jays, Gibbons reached the major leagues in 2001 after being acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in the Rule 5 draft. After struggling through the 2004 season, Gibbons found that his vision was in decline and he underwent LASIK surgery to correct it. This appeared to help him to rebound in the 2005 season. Following his return to the major leagues with the Dodgers last season, Gibbons had photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery to make further vision corrections by slightly reshaping his cornea.
But that wasn't the end of Gibbons' vision quest. He ended his Venezuelan winter ball stint early complaining of blurred vision, then had ongoing problems with contact lenses this spring. Finally he returned to Camelback Ranch today with a new contact lens prescription, which changed the lens magnification and flattened the curvature of the lens to better fit the changed shape of his eye.
The early results were highly favorable today. As TBLA reported yesterday:
Jay Gibbons, on his improved vision, thanks to new contacts: "When I first felt it was playing catch in the morning. It was almost a sigh of relief."
The empirical evidence seemed to agree, with Gibbons making hard contact several times in the exhibition game yesterday.
Eye problems were not the only thing that Gibbons had to overcome to return to the big leagues. His career seemed to be set back with his name appearing in the Mitchell Report:
On December 6, 2007, the Commissioner's Office announced a 15-day suspension of Gibbons for violation of the joint drug program, to take effect at the start of the 2008 season. After the suspension was announced, Gibbons said: "I am deeply sorry for the mistakes that I have made. I have no excuses and bear sole responsibility for my decisions. Years ago, I relied on the advice of a doctor, filled a prescription, charged the HGH, which is a medication, to my credit card and had only intended to help speed my recovery from my injuries and surgeries.
Following his release from the Baltimore Orioles the following spring, Gibbons experienced an odyssey of minor league contracts and independent league stints, finally ending up in the Dodgers system last season on a minor league contract. After lighting up PCL pitching in Albuquerque, Gibbons returned to the majors when the Dodgers purchased his contract last summer.
Gibbons is another local boy made good. He attended Cal State University at Los Angeles and was the only major leaguer to hail from Mayfair High School in Lakewood until Justin Turner got cup of coffee with Baltimore in 2009,
From Eric's contract information:
On November 4, 2010, Gibbons signed a one-year deal for $650,000 plus $150,000 in incentives. The contract is guaranteed for only the MLB minimum (which is now $414,500), per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, meaning the remainder of $235,500 would likely become guaranteed once Gibbons makes the team out of spring training.
Gibbons has $150,000 in performance bonuses as well (per Dylan Hernandez): $50,000 for 300 PA, $50,000 for 400 PA, $50,000 for 500 PA.
|2011 Projections - Age 34 Season|
|(Photo by Danny Moloshok - AP)|
Gibbons' career indicates that he will provide a low-ish OBP but with some power. That could be ideal for a bench bat, but may be trying for fans and management as the left-handed half of a platoon. Additionally, making a return to the major leagues at age 33 after an extended absence without a loss of performance is a rare occurrence. It is quite plausible that Gibbons provides anywhere from slightly above career-level performance to a precipitous drop that would make Acapulco cliff divers envious. I will guess that Gibbons racks up 253 PA and hits a Juan Uribe-like .258/.313/.413.
What are the TBLA community projections for Jay Gibbons in 2011? Give us your prediction for PA, BA, OBP, and SLG in the comments, and feel free to add any other predictions you have as well.