Results tagged ‘ Johnny Damon ’

Why a Johnny Damon reunion makes sense

Around this time two years ago, the Tigers were about midway through the six-week saga of signing Johnny Damon to be their left fielder and designated hitter. He had a good, not great season in Detroit, good for a .756 OPS and a .355 on-base percentage, then was told by the Tigers near season’s end they weren’t interested in re-signing him. Detroit was already plotting a pursuit of free-agent Victor Martinez.

So with Martinez likely out for the season, why would the Tigers have interest in going back to Damon?

Well, they have a few pretty good reasons. But the big picture is that this is a much different team, and a much better offense, than the one that split with Damon last offseason. Delmon Young is the veteran, run producing corner outfielder the Tigers lacked in 2010. Brennan Boesch isn’t a rookie anymore, and Alex Avila is an RBI guy.

The Tigers are searching for a bat to fill the opening left by Martinez, but if they can help it, they’d rather do it with an outfielder. They’d rather keep Miguel Cabrera at first base than have to move him in and out of the DH slot, and an outfielder would allow them some flexibility with Delmon Young in the DH role if they want. Granted, Damon has had just 46 starts in the outfield over the last two seasons, but he at least provides the capability.

Juan Pierre, another free agent linked to the Tigers, kind of falls in the same category, though he has been an everyday outfielder the last couple years in Chicago. Both have declining skills showing, especially in the field, but both can be productive near the top of the order.

Neither would likely be as expensive as a middle-of-the-order hitter, which is a factor. Though the Tigers did have an insurance policy on Victor Martinez, it isn’t believed to be for nearly as much as many have speculated (including myself).

Damon or Pierre would allow them to move either Young or  Boesch down while (in theory) improving the percentages of Cabrera coming up with runners on base. They also add a left-handed bat in the top third of the order, something both manager Jim Leyland and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski have referenced in recent days. Leyland, of course, has also referenced the appeal of adding a top-third order hitter and a better baserunner.

The idea, of course, hinges on somebody else batting behind Cabrera.  Young thrived last year batting in front of Cabrera in part because he saw a lot of strikes; nobody’s going to pitch around the guy batting in front of Cabrera. Boesch struggled mightily batting behind Cabrera down the stretch in 2010, but he’s a more mature hitter now. Leyland never wanted to bat Jhonny Peralta above sixth last year, and he didn’t want to put a whole lot of RBI pressure on Alex Avila either.

Interest in Damon appears to be in the early stages at this point. The Tigers haven’t had any direct contact with Damon, according to a source. But then, with the Yoenis Cespedes pursuit on hold pending his residency clearance in the Dominican Republic, the Tigers aren’t likely to add an outfielder until the Cespedes courtship gets resolved, or at least becomes clearer.

Monday: Tigers at Indians

Before Progressive Field turns into a winter wonderland this November, they still have three nights of baseball left against the Tigers. It was a rainy wonderland for most of the day with showers coming up from the south, but the rain has become more scattered. Looks like they’re going to get this game in.

Once they do, it’ll be the 139th game of the season for Johnny Damon. One more after that, and he’ll become just the fifth player in Major League history to play at least 140 games in 15 consecutive seasons.

Damon is one of three left-handed hitters in this lineup. Right-handed batters have actually fared better than left-handed hitters, .328 average compared with .194, against Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco.

On the other side, we’ll see if the Indians can score a run off of Armando Galarraga this year.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, DH
  3. Raburn, LF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Peralta, SS
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Wells, RF
  9. Rhymes, 2B

P: Armando Galarraga

INDIANS

  1. Michael Brantley, CF
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  4. Travis Hafner, DH
  5. Jayson Nix, 2B
  6. Trevor Crowe, LF
  7. Matt LaPorta, 1B
  8. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  9. Luke Carlin, C

P: Carlos Carrasco

Wednesday: Cabrera out of Tigers lineup

Not surprisingly, Miguel Cabrera will not be starting for the Tigers tonight after leaving last night’s game with more bicep tendinitis in his left shoulder. Johnny Damon also has a day off, so the middle of the Tigers order is looking pretty good with Ryan Raburn batting third, Brennan Boesch in at cleanup and Casper Wells batting fifth.

TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Rhymes, 2B
  3. Raburn, LF
  4. Boesch, DH
  5. Wells, RF
  6. Peralta, SS
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Kelly, 1B
  9. Avila, C
P: Jeremy Bonderman

Damon claimed on waivers, must accept or decline move

A waiver claim has given Johnny Damon has a decision to make: Return to the Red Sox and join a potential playoff race in the city where he won his first World Series, or stay with the Tigers and finish out a season with an organization he has grown to love.

It’s a much more complex decision than one might think.

“It’s probably as tough of a decision for me to take right now as it was for me to leave Boston for New York,” Damon said Monday at Comerica Park, where he was in the Tigers’ starting lineup for Monday night’s game against Kansas City. “It’s something that fortunately we have some time to think about it.”

Damon confirmed the Red Sox had put in a claim for him off waivers Monday afternoon. Boston and Detroit have until Wednesday afternoon to work out some sort of deal, but the decision essentially hinges on Damon thanks to a no-trade clause negotiated in his contract when he signed with Detroit in February.

Damon’s contract requires his approval to be traded to any team except for eight on a list he submitted before the season began. The Yankees and Rays are on that list, but the Red Sox are not.

Thus, Damon has the right to accept or decline any move. If he accepts, he’ll return to the city where he became a star from 2002-05, including a World Series title in 2004 that broke the Curse of the Bambino. If he declines, the Tigers will have to pull him back off waivers and won’t be able to trade him for the rest of the season.

The Red Sox have an outside chance to get back to the postseason. They began Monday 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East race and 5 1/2 games behind the Rays for the Wild Card.

“At this moment, I’m not sure I want to leave Detroit for that,” Damon said. “I enjoy playing here. I enjoy the kids I’m playing for, the coaching staff. But obviously [Red Sox manager] Terry Francona is amazing. But it’s something that I’m going to have think long and hard over.”

Damon’s issue with Boston appears to be the way things ended after the 2005 season. He signed with the Yankees as a free agent after that season, but his issue seems to date back before that decision was made.

“I had a great time playing there,” Damon said. “But I think once it was apparent that I wasn’t a necessity to re-sign there, it started to get ugly. And that’s why I’ve got to think long and hard. I have to think if they do have a strong chance to make the playoffs with the guys beat up there. I have to think long and hard if I’m going to once again be probably one of the nicest guys in baseball, but  be once again the most hated guy in baseball. That’s what it boils down. You guys see how I get booed in every ballpark already.”

Damon said he received the call from the Tigers around 3 p.m. Detroit has a 1 p.m. ET game against the Royals Wednesday afternoon, so he’ll most likely need to decide by then.

The 36-year-old Damon is batting .270 this season with 30 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBIs. He has struggled in August, batting .219 (16-for-78) with no homers, four doubles, a triple, eight RBIs and 20 strikeouts.

The Tigers signed Damon to a one-year contract in February with the idea that he could be the offensive piece that could help them contend again. For a while, they did, leading the AL Central as recently as last month before a month-long slump out of the All-Star break knocked them double-digit games back of the division lead. Detroit recovered with a three-game series sweep of Cleveland this past weekend, but remains in third place, 11 games behind the Twins.

Damon said last week that he understands why the Tigers might look to deal him and try to save some money or get a prospect in return. He also said he would like to be back with the Tigers next year, whether or not he’s traded. He reiterated that on Tuesday.

“The only reason why I would be considering it is to help out this team in the future,” Damon said. “I love the Tigers organization and I love the fact that they’re up-front and honest. If somehow they can get a good prospect back, a player that can help this team in the future, it would be beneficial for them. I would like to remain a Tiger, so I think that’s why these next hours are pretty important.”

Damon reportedly claimed on waivers

If the Tigers were hoping to push Johnny Damon through waivers for a possible late August trade, they might be disappointed. The veteran outfielder was claimed on waivers by an unknown team, according to FOXSports.com.

The question then would become whether Damon was claimed to set up a possible trade or to block him from being traded to another club. If it’s the former, the Tigers would have 48 hours to try to work out a deal with the team that claimed him. If they can’t finalize a trade, they would have to either pull him back off waivers or let the claiming team take his contract — including what’s left of his $8 million salary due — and receive nothing in return.

There was nothing going on the trade front with Damon as of Sunday, but if Damon was placed on waivers Thursday, as previously reported, teams had until Monday to put in a claim on him. Claims placed on players are processed by league — American League first in this case, then National League — then by record, in order from worst to first.

Casper Wells heading to Detroit

The Tigers were on the verge of yet another player move from Triple-A Toledo Sunday night. But the move appears to be a simple call-up, likely to get the Tigers back to their usual number of position players on the 25-man roster, rather than a precursor to any larger move.
Casper Wells was in the Mud Hens’ starting lineup for their game Sunday at Columbus before he was pulled and sent to Detroit in time for Monday’s series opener against the Royals, MLB.com has learned. However, the move is not believed to be related to any trade talks on current Tigers. Indications suggest the Tigers have nothing going on the trade front at the moment, though reports stated they placed Johnny Damon and Brandon Inge on waivers last week.
The Tigers went to an eight-man bullpen ahead of their series last week in New York to help ease the strain on their exhausted bullpen, sending down outfielder Jeff Frazier and calling up lefty reliever Daniel Schlereth. Detroit swapped pitchers with Toledo on Friday, sending down Robbie Weinhardt and calling up Alfredo Figaro, but decided to stay with an extra reliever after three consecutive starters lasted just five innings against the Yankees.
Detroit’s bullpen is in much better shape now after back-to-back seven-inning performances against Cleveland Friday and Saturday from Armando Gallarraga and Max Scherzer and an eight-inning outing from Justin Verlander Sunday. Manager Jim Leyland said Sunday they would not be staying with eight relievers for long. Still, who’s heading back to Toledo isn’t yet clear.
Wells was up with the Tigers in May, starting two games and entering two others as a defensive replacement. He’s hitting .233 for the Hens this year with 21 home runs and 46 RBIs, but his recent numbers are outstanding. He’s batting .354 (23-for-65) in August with seven doubles, three triples, five home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.246 OPS. His OPS since the All-Star break is 1.040 to go with a .295 second-half average.

Damon hopes to stay with Tigers next year

Johnny Damon was in the Yankee Stadium interview room talking with New York reporters about his return to the Bronx for the first time he and the Bronx Bombers parted ways last winter. He ended up saying quite a bit about his future with the Tigers.

Damon reiterated that next year might be his final season before retiring. He said he would very much like it to be with the Tigers. Considering the ups and downs of this season, it was an interesting statement.

“I’m hoping to stay. I’m hoping after this season they want me back to, I feel, be a part of something special. I think that’s a big reason why I chose Detroit, because I felt like there was something happening there with a winning ballclub. A championship would mean the world to the fans there, to that economy, to the owner. That’s why I felt was, and is, the best place for me right now.”

Damon is eligible for free agency this winter, and there has been some speculation whether he would end the season as a Tiger. Detroit could conceivably try to pass him through waivers in order to set up an August trade, though indications are that the Tigers haven’t put him on waivers yet.

Damon signed a one-year, $8 million contract in February after winning a World Series with the Yankees, who briefly had talks on Damon before moving on to other options. His addition was expected to be one of the big pieces towards reigniting a dormant offense. He has had an up-and-down season at the plate, batting .278 with 30 doubles, seven home runs, 38 RBIs and 65 runs scored, but he hit a clutch two-run triple Sunday to help fuel Detroit’s comeback win over the White Sox.

“My experience in Detroit has been great,” Damon said. “I love it there. I feel like the team is an up-and-coming team with a lot of young kids there that definitely need guidance to show them the hopes, and it seems like they’ve been doing a pretty good job at it.”

The Tigers have an interesting offseason on their hands, especially with they do with their outfield. Magglio Ordonez’s ankle fracture all but ensures his contract option for 2011 won’t vest, making it the Tigers’ decision whether to pick it up for $15 million or buy it out for no cost. Austin Jackson is a huge part of the Tigers’ future in center field and at leadoff, and Brennan Boesch is an everyday outfielder now.

“This is a new process for me. I’m almost a player-coach,” Damon said. “I’m around all the young kids who are almost young enough to be my sons, but it’s great. It puts that fire back into you. You enjoy watch these guys grow up. I’m enjoying watching the best hitter in baseball in [Miguel] Cabrera. I’m enjoying watching the best defensive center fielder in the game. That’s the stuff you enjoy and you remember for a very long time.”

Damon has been a DH more days than an outfielder. Detroit will most likely look at an impact bat or two this winter, whether on the free-agent market or through trades.

That said, the Tigers don’t have an obvious No. 2 hitter on their club as is, aside from Damon.

Damon said he knows an August trade is a possibility. Even if it comes to fruition, though, he would like to be in Detroit next year.

“If that does happen, they know that I would be very interested in coming back next year,” Damon said. “I feel like my job’s not complete in Detroit until we get them back to the playoffs to make all the fans happy.”

Judging from Damon’s career plans, it would not take a multi-year deal to bring the 36-year-old back if they want him.

Friday: Tigers at White Sox

Normally, left-handed hitters like Brennan Boesch and Johnny Damon wouldn’t be playing against White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle. With a hot, humid night in Chicago and the ball threatening to fly (though the flags atop the scoreboard are blowing in), however, Leyland wants to get his power guys in the lineup. Thus, Boesch and Damon play. Ramon Santiago is off.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, DH
  3. Peralta, SS
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, 2B
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Boesch, RF
  8. Raburn, LF
  9. Laird, C

P: Jeremy Bonderman

WHITE SOX

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Omar Vizquel, 3B
  3. Alex Rios, CF
  4. Paul Konerko, DH
  5. Mark Teahen, RF (just activated from DL today)
  6. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  7. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  8. Mark Kotsay, 1B
  9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

P: Mark Buehrle

Saturday: Tigers vs. Angels

UPDATE: Angels lineup has changed. MLB suspended Torii Hunter four games for last night’s incident, and Hunter decided not to appeal.

As Jim Leyland said he would do, Brennan Boesch and Johnny Damon are sitting against wild left-hander Scott Kazmir. Ramon Santiago gets his first start at shortstop since Brandon Inge came off the DL, while Jhonny Peralta gets a game at DH. Jeff Frazier starts in left field, batting seventh.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Santiago, SS
  3. Raburn, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Peralta, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Frazier, LF
  8. Laird, C
  9. Rhymes, 2B

P: Jeremy Bonderman

ANGELS

  1. Bobby Abreu, LF
  2. Erick Aybar, SS
  3. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
  4. Torii Hunter, RF Hideki Matsui, DH
  5. Hideki Matsui, DH Maicer Izturis, 2B
  6. Maicer Izturis, 2B Juan Rivera, RF
  7. Mike Napoli, 1B
  8. Bobby Wilson, C
  9. Peter Bourjos, CF

P: Scott Kazmir

Tigers shuffle batting order for weekend

Jim Leyland said mainly trying to “change things up” and try to get something going by switching up his batting order. The way they’ve been hitting lately, he figures, it’s worth trying something.

The revamped order switches up slumping rookie Brennan Boesch from fifth to second. Instead of trying to protect Miguel Cabrera in the lineup, Boesch will be trying to set the table for him. Jhonny Peralta moves up from sixth to fifth. Johnny Damon moves from third to sixth where he hasn’t hit in the order since 1999. Ryan Raburn slots into the third spot.
TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Boesch, RF
  3. Raburn, LF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Peralta, SS
  6. Damon, DH
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Avila, C
  9. Rhymes, 2B
P: Justin Verlander
ANGELS
  1. Bobby Abreu, LF
  2. Erick Aybar, SS
  3. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
  4. Torii Hunter, RF
  5. Hideki Matsui, DH
  6. Maicer Izturis, 2B
  7. Howie Kendrick, 1B
  8. Bobby Wilson, C
  9. Peter Bourjos, CF
P: Jered Weaver
ANGELS
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