Jay Gibbons hopes contact issue solved

Updated: March 17, 2011, 1:26 PM ET
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Jay Gibbons returned to the team's spring-training facility Thursday with a sense of cautious optimism after dealing with a contact lens issue.

Gibbons, whose lens repeatedly popped out of his left eye during games, left camp Monday to visit an eye doctor in San Francisco, and came back with a stronger prescription and a flatter lens that better conforms to his cornea, which was flattened somewhat by the PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) surgery he underwent last fall. That procedure was a touch-up to the Lasik procedure he underwent in 2004.

"It went well," Gibbons said. "One thing I found out was that I was wearing the wrong prescription and the wrong size contacts. As long as it stays in, I think I'm cured, and I'm optimistic it will. Wearing it and walking around with it, it isn't really moving around. Now, we'll see what happens when I go on the field and dive and play with it in."

Gibbons is tentatively slated to be a backup outfielder and first baseman and the team's primary left-handed bat off the bench this season, but he also has a non-guaranteed contract that requires him to make the team on Opening Day in order to collect his full $650,000 base salary, with only $400,000 guaranteed if he fails to make the club.

Gibbons has two hits in 22 at-bats, with five strikeouts, in the Cactus League this spring. He admitted he has had trouble seeing pitches, especially pitches high in the strike zone. However, while he acknowledged that the combination of his non-guaranteed contract and his sluggish start could hurt him when it comes time to set the final roster, Gibbons denied that he is feeling any extra pressure.

"It's one of those things I can't really control," he said. "I'm not putting any pressure on myself. I still feel I have nothing to lose. If I do my job, things are going to work out. If I don't, I have faced that also. For myself and the team, I have to show I have some type of baseball ability in the next 10 days, mostly for my own self-confidence. They aren't going to run somebody out there who can't play the game."

Gibbons, 34, went more than two years without playing in the majors after the Baltimore Orioles released him in spring 2008, just months after his name appeared in the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drug use, and he actually retired at one point in the interim.

Last year, he came to minor league camp with the Dodgers and eventually played his way back to the big leagues on Aug. 8.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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