Damon Could Provide Spark To Tribe But Isn’t Savior
By Vince Guerrieri
Johnny Damon’s 38. Last year he hit .261 for the Tampa Bay Rays, with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs.
But he’s still an improvement offensively for the Indians – there’s almost no place to go but up.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports isn’t alone in reporting that Damon is near a deal with the Indians, adding another left-handed bat to a lineup that’s full of them, but his veteran presence and experience as a winner – not to mention any offense he might be able to produce – could be just what the Indians need.
“I love the game of baseball and still feel I can contribute and help a team win,” Damon said on his website, offering no hint in the wee small hours of the morning Thursday. “I’ve been blessed to remain healthy my entire career and have never felt better leading into a season. Having said that, I know I am 38, but my body feels the same as when I was 33 years old, so I am going to keep playing.”
Reports linked Damon to the Detroit Tigers, whom he played for in 2010, in spring training after first baseman/designated hitter/occasional catcher Victor Martinez went down with an ACL injury. But the Tigers suddenly found themselves the winners in the Prince Fielder Sweepstakes, and those talks died. Damon is no stranger to the AL Central. In addition to the year he played in Detroit, he broke in with the Kansas City Royals, playing six years there – the longest stop the well-traveled outfielder/DH had in his career.
The Tribe managed to plate six runners in Wednesday afternoon’s 10-6 loss to the White Sox, but the team’s offense has been a problem so far in the 1-4 season. The Tribe’s batting average going into Wednesday’s game was an anemic .153, the worst in the American League.
Signing Damon isn’t a long-term solution. It’s not even a guaranteed good move. But the Indians are in dire need of some offense, and it can’t get much worse.