A couple of weeks ago, free-agent Johnny Damon signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians. But after missing spring training, Damon needed some time to get back into playing condition. But he seems to be nearly ready ...
Look for Johnny Damon to join the #Indians on Tuesday when they open three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago.
It's not immediately apparent that Hoynes has a source for this information, or is merely speculating. But he's close to the organization so I suspect is closer to the former than the latter.
It's hard to say if Damon is "ready" to hit major-league pitching; instead of working with one of the Indians' minor-league clubs, he's been getting his at-bats in extended spring training.
Cleveland can definitely use some help. The Indians have used only four outfielders all season, and all four have struggled. Shin-Soo Choo will continue to play almost every day in right field, and Michael Brantley in center. But left fielder Shelley Duncan bats right-handed, has a .221/.304/.422 career line against right-handed pitchers and basically should never be allowed to play against them. The same may be said of Aaron Cunningham, the Indians' fourth outfielder.
No, Johnny Damon doesn't have much left in the tank. But he does make the first-place Indians just a little bit better.
The 38-year-old reached agreement with Cleveland last week on a one-year, $1.2 million pending a physical. Damon, who needs 277 hits to reach 3,000 for his career, is at the team’s complex in Goodyear, Ariz., preparing to join the Indians. Damon can earn another $1.4 million in performance bonuses.
The physical is likely a formality, since Damon was reported to have been working out all winter expecting to join a team. Since he did not have any competition in spring games, though, the Tribe likely wants him to face some live pitching, which he’ll do in extended-spring-training games.
The Indians could use him in the lineup soon, so don’t expect him to spend too much time in Goodyear.
That’s not a lot of money for a player who did have a productive season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011: .261/.326/.418, a 110 OPS+, 16 home runs and 19 stolen bases. Damon made $5.25 million for that with the Rays.
But at age 38, and after the 2012 season has already begun, it’s apparently “beggars can’t be choosers” time for Damon. According to this article, it still could be a little while before he’s ready to play:
Damon, who could play left or center field, must pass a physical. And although he’s in excellent shape, Damon will likely need some time to get ready to play after not going to training camp or face live pitching since last season.
He’ll have to play the outfield most of the time, as the Indians already have Travis Hafner at DH.
Does this count as official official confirmation? Semi-official confirmation? Quasi-official?
I don't know. But it sure seems like Johnny Damon will soon make the Indians his seventh team.
And the Indians can probably use him. While Damon's got little defensive value and his recent numbers are hardly eye-popping, he did post a 110 OPS+ last season, and the Indians have been playing right-handed-hitting Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham in left field. With Duncan off to a fast start, Cunningham's probably ticketed for the waiver wire or the minors (or both), with Damon and Duncan forming a reasonably productive platoon in left.
Of course, this assumes the deal eventually does become official official, and that nothing strange happens while Damon spends two or three weeks getting into game shape.
There were only a few teams that made sense for a quasi-outfielder, low-punch DH like Johnny Damon. The Reds before they signed Ryan Ludwick. The Yankees before they put their trust in Raul Ibanez. The A's before they signed Manny Ramirez. The Cleveland Indians were one of those teams, and Ken Rosenthal reported on Wednesday night that the two sides had reached an agreement.
Not so fast, everybody.
No agreement yet between #Indians and Damon. But again, was told by sources late last night that it will happen.
I'm not sure that I've ever read Rosenthal say that something "will happen," so I gather it's perfectly fine to order your Damon jersey if you're an Indians fan. With Travis Hafner rather entrenched at first base, it seems like Damon's place will be in the outfield.
Damon is the first player with "Damon" in his name to play for the Indians' major-league team, as neither Damon Berryhill, Damon Buford, Damon Hollins, nor Damon Minor ever played in Cleveland. Neither did Damon Ponce Deleon. Also, this entire paragraph was included just to get in a Damon Ponce Deleon reference.