February 21st, 2010

Reactions around baseball to Damon deal

The Tigers haven’t officially announced their one-year contract with Johnny Damon yet, but others around baseball have their first impressions nonetheless, including within the Tigers clubhouse.

We already knew Phil Coke and Austin Jackson thought a lot of Damon, their former teammate in New York and new teammate in Detroit. But so is Magglio Ordonez, who has never played on the same team as Damon but will probably hit behind him.

“It’s huge for this team,” Ordonez said. “We need him batting first or second. Right now we don’t have a leadoff hitter. I think he’s going to be a big help.”

Ordonez is probably going to like anybody who can get on base and move runners in front of him. Though he batted .291 with runners in scoring position last year, he drove in just 50 runs, He had fewer runners in scoring position during his at-bats than the average Major League player, according to baseball-reference.com. It’s the first time that has happened to him since 2006.

More reactions from outside the Tigers clubhouse, courtesy of MLB.com reporters Bryan Hoch, Dick Kaegel and Scott Merkin:

Yankees manager Joe Girardi: “I’m happy for him that he found out where he’s going to go. For players, that’s an anxious time, trying to figure out where you’re going to be. Usually it doesn’t go on this long. I wish Johnny luck. Johnny was good for us here. We all miss Johnny. This is the hard part of the game. I’ll root for Johnny, except when he’s playing against us.”

Royals manager Trey Hillman: “Arguably he had one of his best years ever last year. Some people are going to argue that it was the ballpark (new Yankee Stadium) that he was playing in (or) his comfort level and the support cast that was around him playing for the Yankees. Even with Johnny being a veteran at the age he’s at, I wouldn’t discount anything that he brings to that team in a bigger ballpark.  He’s a guy that’s been making adjustments his whole career. He’s needs to flatten that swing out a little bit and hit more line drives instead of those fly balls over that short porch in Yankee Stadium. He’ll make the adjustment. That’s the way we’ll approach him – another dangerous tool for Jim Leyland in that lineup.”

White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy: “I wanted him on my team. Johnny Damon is a winner. Johnny
going to Detroit makes Detroit quite a bit better. It probably takes an
inexperienced guy out of their lineup in front of [Miguel] Cabrera,
[Magglio] Ordonez and [Carlos] Guillen.”

White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski: “I look at it as a positive that we got as close as we could to
getting Damon. Knowing him and knowing that he would
not want to leave Florida for Spring Training, to get him to entertain
the idea was a huge step. So, we did everything we could and in our power to get him here. Family
won out. He has four young kids and he didn’t want to uproot and move
them. We like what we have as a club. We added a lot of pieces.”

Sunday roundup

Lots of stuff today, so I’ll round it up for the moment:

  • Leyland wasn’t commenting on Johnny Damon, but he did comment on how Carlos Guillen could be affected. To that, he said it will not be an issue: “Carlos Guillen will hit fifth for the Tigers this year. And he’ll get all the at-bats he wants, trust me. So you can nip that in the bud. I’m not going to get into details right now about anything else. But Carlos Guillen, I can assure you — and I hope I see it in headlines — he will be a major factor in our success this year, and he will get all the at-bats that he wants. For us to be good, he has to be good.”
  • Tigers confirmed that Kenny Rogers will join the club as an instructor March 2-5, and possibility for another short stint later in the month. Expect Kenny to do some fielding and pickoff instruction while he’s here. “He’s going to work,” Leyland said. “I have the utmost respect for Kenny, and Kenny made it perfectly clear he’s not coming over to say hello to Bondo and Nate.”
  • Bobby Seay has been shut down for a few days with bursitis and tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, which might explain why his first bullpen session the other day felt so foreign to him.
  • With Seay out, Andy Oliver has been added to the spring training roster as a non-roster invitee. He threw a bullpen session Sunday under the watch of pitching coach Rick Knapp, and looked pretty impressive. Not sure what Seay’s situation has to do with Oliver, but they were announced in tandem.
  • Gerald Laird’s legal situation has been resolved. He is pleading no contest to his January arrest and having the matter dropped in exchange for attending anger management classes, which he has done. He reported to camp Sunday morning after taking a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, where he attended his sister’s wedding Saturday. He arrived to catch Justin Verlander in midseason form. Ouch.
  • Magglio Ordonez is drawing compliments for the shape that he’s in. He said he went to a training facility over the offseason and did a lot of lower-body work, including agility drills. But he looks stronger in his arms and upper body, too. “I hate to get too excited,” Leyland said, “but I would be shocked if he doesn’t have a big year.”