Healthy Giannotti

Richard Giannotti's aluminum bat hasn't been making too much noise lately. Just 1 for 18 in the last six games, including six strikeouts during an 0 for 8 performance against North Carolina last weekend, Giannotti has seen his batting average fall to .274.

In fact the University of Miami junior outfielder has gone hitless over the past week - a stretch of four games. But Giannotti isn't complaining about his recent problems at the plate. Giannotti is just glad to be healthy and part of the nationally-ranked Hurricanes a year after battling numerous injuries that forced him to miss half the season.

"Knock on wood. It's just refreshing to know you arrive at the ballpark everyday and you're only concern is getting ready for the game," said Giannotti, who has already started 26 games this season. "Last year was such a mental grind because it seemed like I was always battling something. I actually feel part of the team this time around."

It's not difficult to see why. Giannotti is actually playing on a regular basis, having already accumulated 106 plate appearances in 39 games this season compared to 107 all of last season. With 29 hits, 22 RBIs and 22 runs scored he is on to pace to surpass his totals in the same categories (35, 28, 24) of a year ago.

Although his bat has gone cold in May any production the Hurricanes have received from Giannotti could be viewed as a blessing. The former All-County selection out of St. Thomas Aquinas was out for 32 games last season as he dealt with different injuries. Giannotti missed the first nine games of the season recovering from a partially torn non-throwing shoulder.

Three weeks later Giannotti re-injured the shoulder forcing him to sit out four games. Soon after Giannotti was drilled in his right knee by a pitch. On April 15, Giannotti suffered torn cartilage in his knee. He returned May 24 against Long Beach State.

"When you go through everything that I went through it's hard to keep a high level of confidence," says Giannotti. "I wasn't going to give up or anything, but it took a lot to come to the park in a good frame of mind."

While the rest of the Hurricanes enjoyed a march through the post-season that ended in the College World Series, Giannotti was dealing with a shoulder injury that limited his production during the most important part of the season. Despite finishing the season with a .327 batting average he went hitless in the Super Regional against N.C. State and had nine at-bats in the CWS.

"It was just one thing after another," he said. "It got to the point where the only in my mind was, 'What's Next?"

But Giannotti, who had off-season shoulder surgery, has not only remained injury-free, but has given the Hurricanes a nice offensive lift - in spots - this season. Giannotti was recently named Co-National Offensive player of the Week after going 7 for 15 with six runs scored and 10 RBIs against Virginia and Coastal Carolina. He added a 2 for 2 against FSU, April 11. Giannotti opened the season 6 for 9 and 5 RBIs in the season-opening series against Florida.

"Aside from being healthy I'm just comfortable at the plate," says Giannotti. "A lot of it is having a clear frame of mind and just worrying about baseball. Thankfully, the injury bug has stayed away from me this year."

Staying healthy might also help Giannotti get another chance at the next level. Giannotti, who was drafted in the 20th round by the San Francisco Giants in 2001, is hoping that a team is willing to come after him again - no matter who it is.

"I'd be lying if I said I don't think about it," says Giannotti.

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