Pinch-hitting is a fine art and one that is very hard to learn. I'm still finding my way. The situations that I've been used in have been high-pressure situations. It's usually late in the game. I love it.

I think that my experience as a designated hitter has been a tremendous help. While I used to get three or four at-bats in the DH role, now I may go six or seven games without an at-bat. That is a tough thing to get used to.

Depending on the flow of the game, I usually start hitting off the tee during the third or fourth inning. I'll have someone throw to me in the cage around the eighth inning, when I expect to be called on. The hard part is re-creating game speed. You can hit off the machine all you want, but it's not the same as hitting off a live pitcher.

When I think of great pinch hitters, I always think of Matt Stairs. He's done an incredible job over the years. I've talked to him about it a little bit. It's a role where you kind of have to think of yourself as a gunslinger. You have to get up there and on the pitcher before he gets on you. If that pitcher makes that one mistake, you have to be ready to jump on it because he might not make another one.

It's fun playing behind a guy like Todd Helton. I always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. It's even better now because he's not only my teammate, but he's my friend. We've been able to help each other. Todd has a phenomenal work ethic. He's out there every day doing what he needs to do.

Slugger Jason Giambi has hit 428 home runs over his career, including 13 in 131 at-bats last year.