Giavotella expects to be 100% by spring
Infielder set to accept George Brett Hitter of the Year Award
KANSAS CITY -- Second baseman Johnny Giavotella will be arriving for the Royals Awards Luncheon on Wednesday with some good news about his surgically-repaired right hip.
"I'll definitely be 100 percent by Spring Training," he said.
At least that's his forecast after getting a thumbs up recently from Dr. Marc Philippon, who performed the surgery to fix a slight labrum tear on Oct. 20 at Vail, Colo.
"It's feeling well, it's progressing every day. I'm starting to run, hit and throw, so everything is going as planned. I look forward to getting back on the field," Giavotella said. "I went back to the doctor about two weeks ago and he said everything has healed as far as the labrum and the bone. The main part of the rehab right now is getting more strength in the muscles around the surgical area and getting more flexibility."
Giavotella has been undergoing rehabilitation work at the Royals' complex in Surprise, Ariz. He'll travel to Kansas City for Wednesday's noon luncheon at the Overland Park (Kan.) Convention Center, where he'll receive the George Brett Award as the organization's top Minor League hitter of 2011. His .338 average, with 153 hits and 72 RBIs, earned him a promotion to the Royals on Aug. 5.
"I couldn't ask for a better year last year," Giavotella said. "I did very well in Triple-A and got two months under my belt in the big leagues, which was a tremendous experience for me that I think is going to help me even more this year."
Although Giavotella, who played 46 games for Kansas City and hit .247, is the leading candidate at second base, he'll be challenged by Chris Getz, who holds a defensive advantage. Yuniesky Betancourt, returning in a utility infield role, could be a wild-card candidate as he learns the nuances of second base.
"I'm going into Spring Training trying to earn a spot. I don't think anything is guaranteed," Giavotella said. "I'm going to go out there and do the best I can, and my mindset is that I'll go out there and earn it. Whoever gets the second base spot when the season opens up is going to have to earn it."
The young Royals finished the season strong, with a 15-10 record in September that included winning 11 of their last 16 games.
"We started to click toward the end of the season, and a lot of us rookies kind of got our feet under us, especially myself. Just kind of took a deep breath and settled down and started to play the game we always played, and wound up stringing together some wins toward the end of the year," Giavotella said.
He joins in the upswing of optimism about next season's Royals as their premier prospects from the Minor Leagues mix in the Majors.
"All of us rookies have been playing together for three or four years now, so we have all the confidence in the world when it comes to our abilities and what we can do," he said. "It's just of us getting the experience in the big leagues to shine through and become a consistent team heading forward."
On Wednesday, Giavotella will collect his trophy from the award's namesake, Brett, with whom he worked during Spring Training last year.
"I talked to George a decent amount, and anytime you get around him, you want to talk to him about hitting because he's so knowledgable. And the stories that he tells are second to none, so it's definitely fun to go out there and pick his brain and listen to what he has to say," Giavotella said.
Giavotella also will participate in the Royals Caravan, which begins this week.
Luncheon tickets can be purchased at www.royals.com/awards, or by calling 816-504-4040. Prices are $150 for individual tickets or $1,000 for a table of 10. General manager Dayton Moore, manager Ned Yost and other baseball operations officials will participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre. Awards will go to:
Major League winners
Alex Gordon, Les Milgram Player of the Year
Bruce Chen, Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year
Eric Hosmer, Joe Burke Special Achievement Award
Minor League winners
Mike Jirschele, Dick Howser Player Development Person of the Year
Tim Melville, Mike Sweeney Award (recognizing a player who best represents the organization on and off the field)
Anthony Seratelli, Willie Wilson Baserunner of the Year
Lorenzo Cain, Frank White Defensive Player of the Year
Kelvin Herrera, Paul Splittorff Pitcher of the Year
Johnny Giavotella, George Brett Hitter of the Year
Eric Edelstein, Matt Minker Award (recognizing an outstanding affiliate employee)
Lois Lakey, Dan Quisenberry Special Achievement Award (recognizing an outstanding member of the community)
Orlando Estevez, Art Stewart Scout of the Year
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.