ST. LOUIS -- Veteran outfielder Jay Gibbons passed a physical in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday afternoon and cleared the final obstacle on his long road back to organized baseball. The Brewers inked a Minor League contract with Gibbons, a left-handed hitter who belted 121 home runs for the Orioles from 2001-07. He was released in March and had been playing in an Independent league. Gibbons, 31, will spend at least the next 10-14 days with Double-A Huntsville as a replacement for outfielder Michael Brantley, who aggravated an ankle injury and was to be placed on the disabled list when Gibbons is activated. When Brantley returns, Gibbons is expected to get a promotion to Triple-A Nashville.
"He's a little rusty, self-admittedly rusty," Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "The idea is to get him some Minor League at-bats and then evaluate as we go along." Gibbons was one of the players mentioned in former Sen. George Mitchell's report on performance-enhancing drugs that was released in December. He later admitted to using human growth hormone to speed his recovery from a wrist injury. In a move to find work after Baltimore released him, Gibbons was forthright about his past indiscretions in a letter sent to the Brewers and 28 other teams. Gibbons was in New York during the All-Star break and met with Ash and Brewers amateur scouting director Jack Zduriencik. The Brewers subsequently dispatched a scout to see Gibbons play for the Independent Long Island Ducks, where one of his teammates was former Brewer Alex Sanchez, another former Major Leaguer linked to performance-enhancing drugs. "He was very straightforward about his situation off the field," said Ash, who was the Blue Jays' GM when that team drafted Gibbons in the 14th round in 1998. The Orioles snatched him away in the 2000 Rule 5 Draft. "They sat down and basically interviewed him," Brewers GM Doug Melvin said. "Gord is familiar with him from Toronto, and [Gibbons] wants to get back and playing. I don't know exactly what his [off-the-field] issues were, but they were not enough to not give a guy a second chance. He's always been a good guy with a good work ethic." The Orioles are paying Gibbons nearly $12 million this season and next. Unless someone is traded before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline, Gibbons would join a slew of other left-handed outfield bats at Nashville with Major League experience, a list that already includes Tony Gwynn Jr., Laynce Nix and Hernan Iribarren. Melvin said that Gibbons has a good chance for a September callup to Milwaukee.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.