ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Designated hitter Johnny Damon #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds third base against the St. Louis Cardinals. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Johnny Damon is still looking for a DH job, but the problem is that there aren't any DH jobs looking for Johnny Damon.
This is the first time that Johnny Damon has been sitting at home in early March since 1991, when he was a high-school senior. He's probably getting texts from all his playing buddies -- "This grapefruit is delicious!" or "Watch out for the cacti: they're spiky!" -- and feeling more than a little left out. He isn't home because he has a set of unreasonable demands. He isn't home because he's contemplating retirement. His only sin is that he wants to start.
Scott Boras hasn't given up.
We’re taking the patient approach with Johnny, who has the eternal genetic pool that he doesn’t really need spring training
What Boras is saying is that Damon has found the swimming pool from Cocoon, and that he's also looking for a six-year deal for Wilford Brimley.
He was the third-best DH. I’ve got all the data.
The article doesn't go into detail, but after Boras's quote, there was an hour-long argument about "data," "datum," and modern English usage, so we didn't get to hear what Boras uncovered that proved Damon was the third-best DH in the league. But it was probably pretty interesting.
The important point, though, is that Damon was still pretty danged okay. And unlike most DHs, Damon can actually wear a glove and stand in the outfield without totally embarrassing himself. He should have a job. Teams should have some use for a lefty DH who can get on base and play the outfield in an emergency, especially on a one-year deal. But here are a list of teams in the AL and their designated hitters:
Are there a couple situations up there that Johnny Damon could improve? Probably. Would you gamble a couple million dollars that he could improve them? Considering that the teams that might -- might -- see an upgrade with Damon generally aren't the teams expecting to contend, you can't blame them for saving the money.
If you believe that Miguel Cabrera can stick at third, the fit is obvious for Damon. But if the Tigers are confident, they're wisely keeping the DH spot occupied by players who can be put back on the bench without much of a ruckus in case the Miggy experiment doesn't work out. It would be tougher to do with Damon.
That leaves the National League, though it's unlikely that a team would find anything more than a fourth-outfielder's spot for him. The more likely scenario for Damon to find a home, then, is through an injury. He probably felt bad for checking Baseball Reference to see what position Scott Sizemore played, but he didn't have anything better to do. If he's not going to take a bench job for bench-job money, he's sitting at home and waiting for an injury.
Damon: The rush ... you wouldn't believe the rush. The endorphins kick in, the adrenaline ... it's wild.
Ibañez: I have kids, man.
Damon: Oh, it's not dangerous. Base jumping is like riding a bike once you get used to it.
It's a strange spot for a good player, but until the National League gets the DH, this scenario will probably repeat itself more often than you'd expect.