Tag:Johnny Damon
Posted on: March 3, 2010 4:33 pm

Tryin' to reason with exhibition schedule season

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The changing spring training landscape is presenting some clubs with scheduling dilemmas, not the least of which is teams which already face divisional rivals 18 or 19 times a summer because of the unbalanced schedule facing those clubs even more in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.

In Florida, with Baltimore having moved to the Gulf Coast side (Sarasota) from Fort Lauderdale, all five AL East clubs are within a two-hour drive of each other. Tampa Bay is just down the road in Port Charlotte, the Red Sox are a little further down the road in Fort Myers and the Yankees and Blue Jays not far north in the Tampa area.

Result: Tampa Bay is scheduled to play AL East foes in 16 of 31 Grapefruit League games. The Orioles play AL East rivals in 15 of 32 games. And so on.

The Dodgers' move to the Cactus League last spring made for more NL West spring matchups. In Vero Beach, Fla., the Dodgers didn't see any of their NL West rivals all spring. This year, Los Angeles plays NL West opponents in eight of 28 Cactus League games.

Aside from the simple fact that you get bored playing the same teams over and over, are there advantages to seeing divisional rivals so often in the spring? Disadvantages?

"There are two schools of thought on that," Baltimore president and general manager Andy MacPhail says. "One, is that you need to hide, or camouflage, what you have. The other is that what you're afraid of letting your opponent see, you get the same benefit with your opponent.

"There's probably some validity to both points of view."

The Yankees, for example, could pitch Joba Chamberlain in a 'B' game one day this spring rather than against Boston, thus not allowing Red Sox hitters the luxury of seeing Joba until the meaningful games begin. Or they could shuttle Joba into a minor-league game.

There was the spring in Arizona several years ago when Curt Schilling did just that, facing either the White Sox in each of his spring starts or the Diamondbacks minor-leaguers. His preference was to not reveal anything to the Rockies, Giants or Padres until he had to.

Meantime, the defections of the Orioles and Dodgers from Florida's East Coast has made the Cardinals and Marlins (Jupiter) and Mets (Port St. Lucie) adjust travel plans. That trio must play each other more often, and make a couple of extra trips north to face the Nationals (Viera).

It's that, or hike clear across the state, or way up to the Orlando area.

Sunblock Day? Technically, because the sun is out. But the game-time temp for Baltimore's first-ever game here in Sarasota today was 54 degrees, with a howling wind making it feel like high 40s or low 50s.

Likes: Thanks to Johnny Damon for playing along when I hit him with this quiz on Detroit and Michigan the other day. Not everybody would have been such a good sport. ... Thanks also to the Jefferson High School track team in Tampa, which graciously shared its facilities with me the other afternoon when I actually got outside for one of my few outdoor runs over the past couple of weeks in this chilly state. Jefferson, by the way, is the alma mater of Tony La Russa and Tino Martinez. ... Great line in Baseball Prospectus in comparing the struggles of the Orioles, Expos and Brewers in its 2010 edition: "The Expos were a ward of the state, while the Brewers were a ward of the Selig family, and in both cases, the clubs were the baseball equivalent of inmates in dire Dickensian orphanages." ... In the tweet world, it will be hard to top one of Dave O'Brien's from several days ago. O'Brien, who does a great job covering the Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tweeted something about closer Billy Wagner's "flannel shirt." Only he dropped the "r" in shirt. Fairly soon after came another tweet from O'Brien, explaining that's what happens sometimes when you're trying to work the keyboard on a cell phone.

Dislikes: Jay McGwire. What a sleaze. Can you get any lower than writing a book to cash in on your brother's name? Jay and Mark apparently are estranged. This oughta keep them that way. ... Watched the monologue of Jay Leno's return to late night Monday. It was even lamer than his monologues used to be. David Letterman remains the king in my book, and Conan O'Brien got jobbed.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The senioritas don't care-o
"When there's no dinero"

-- Zac Brown Band, Toes


Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:38 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 7:14 pm

Tigers, Braves, White Sox woo Damon

A long, cold winter appears poised to thaw for outfielder Johnny Damon, who is mulling offers from Detroit and Atlanta with the Chicago White Sox in the mix as well, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

Damon, who helped freeze himself out of the Bronx by declining a Yankees offer earlier this winter, now has multiple options as the start of spring camp draws near. He is expected to make a decision in the next few days.

Detroit's offer, confirmed by sources on Thursday, is believed to be for significantly more money than that of Atlanta, which extended an offer at mid-week. Agent Scott Boras, who has a history of coaxing Detroit owner Mike Ilitch into financial territory beyond where Tigers baseball people are comfortable (see Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez), reportedly has received an offer from Detroit with variations that could be worth $7 million over one year or $14 million over two.

The Braves' offer, according to multiple reports, is in the neighborhood of $4 million for one year with a portion of that deferred.

That Atlanta's pitch to Damon would be lukewarm makes sense because, in the National League, Damon would have to play full time in the outfield, where scouts say his skills have deteriorated. Damon, never blessed with a strong throwing arm, was moved from center to left field by the Yankees in 2009.

In Detroit -- or, with the White Sox -- Damon could serve as a designated hitter. Though, the Tigers also have an aging Carlos Guillen, so Damon likely would get some outfield time as well.

In the Detroit and Atlanta scenarios, Damon would fill a specific need: Leadoff hitter. In Chicago, Damon would help fill top-of-the-order needs as well, but the White Sox also acquired Juan Pierre from the Dodgers earlier this winter. 

The Braves believe they've never had a true leadoff hitter. Detroit, which lost the AL Central lead on the last weekend of the 2009 season, since has cut loose Placido Polanco (who signed with Philadelphia) and traded Curtis Granderson (Yankees). The White Sox, who used Chris Getz and Scott Podsednik atop the order last year, also have long felt they've lacked a true leadoff hitter. Thus, Pierre, and, perhaps Damon (who, at the very least, would give the White Sox another needed lefty bat).

The Braves could be attractive to Damon for a couple of reasons: President John Schuerholz was the general manager in Kansas City when the Royals made Damon their first-round pick in 1992, and they train in Orlando, Fla., where Damon makes his off-season home. Furthermore, Orlando is a short flight from Atlanta, one that Damon could easily make on Braves off days during the season.

The Tigers' money, though, is expected by many in the industry to make Damon overlook all that.

Meantime, Damon, 36, would arrive with flashing caution lights in at least some areas: He's older, his defense has eroded some and there is some sentiment that his offensive numbers last year were inflated by new Yankee Stadium's hitter-friendly demeanor. While he equaled a career-high with 24 home runs, 17 of those were at home. The other seven all came in AL East division ballparks.


Posted on: December 9, 2009 6:23 pm

Notes on Johnny Damon and more

INDIANAPOLIS -- Where might outfielder Johnny Damon land if he and the Yankees can't get back together on a deal following New York's acquisition of Curtis Granderson? Here's one potential spot: San Francisco.

The Giants are looking to improve their offense and met this week with agent Scott Boras, who also represents third baseman Adrian Beltre, another potential fit with the Giants. Damon's bat certainly would compliment an ace rotation featuring Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Barry Zito well.

The Yankees remain interested in retaining Damon, though the acquisition of Granderson provides them with leverage to bring him back on their terms rather than on his -- or, at the very least, to meet on middle ground.

While announcing the three-way blockbuster trade with Detroit and Arizona that netted the Yankees Granderson on Wednesday, Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman said that the move does not necessarily preclude them from talking with Damon and free agent designated hitter Hideki Matsui.

"We're still fluid in our discussions right now," Cashman said. "It gives us comfort to know we have solved a big part of our offense. We have a great offense as it is, but when you have the potential of losing a Damon and Matsui ... with Granderson in mix, [it's like], 'All right, I've got certain things taken care of, it's not as bad as it was an hour before sitting at this podium."

-- Free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre expects to sign a multi-year deal, sources with knowledge of his thinking said Wednesday. Baltimore and San Francisco are among the interested teams.

-- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says he expects newly acquired outfielder Austin Jackson, from the Yankees as part of the Granderson trade, to break camp with the big league club next spring.

-- Dombrowski on the difficulty of dealing a player as popular as Granderson is in Detroit: "It's very difficult. When I talked to him on the phone today, I said it's one of the more difficult phone calls I've made in my career. You've all seen the ability, it speaks for itself. But he's as quality a human being as you'll find. He's an individual who meant a lot to our franchise, to our city, to our state. I know he's well-loved, and it's deserved, but as I told him, we're making some adjustments and it's a business decision. He's a unique individual, and I understand when you trade players that are known for players that are unknown, it's never a popular move with your fans."

-- Not much today on the Cubs' front in their efforts to deal Milton Bradley, other than the fact that it remains their No. 1 goal. "They're trying to push Bradley out the door as soon as possible," one source says.

-- Congratulations to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, who will be inducted into the writers' wing of the Hall of Fame next July as the winner of this year's J.G. Taylor Spink award.

-- Congratulations also to the legendary Peter Gammons, who ends his 20-year run at ESPN this week and will move over to the MLB Network. The move will allow Peter more flexibility, less travel and more time in his native Boston area. Well deserved for one of the game's class acts.


Posted on: November 5, 2009 12:00 am

Yankees win 27th World Series

NEW YORK -- The World Series takes personal checks. Credit and debit cards, too.

Score one for the Yankees, and their bankers. Hideki Matsui as World Series MVP? Maybe. The three home runs were clutch, and the World Series record-tying six RBIs in Game 6 were smashing.

But the chief bean counter who sat behind the desk last winter and approved the expenditure of nearly $425 million to hoist CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett aboard the U.S.S. Yankee? Now there's a true Yankee.

In the end, Team Steinbrenner delivered a 7-3 gold-plated, Game 6 World Series clincher for the ages, knocking the stuffing out of these Phillies and Pedro Martinez at every turn. On a 48-degree evening Wednesday, they won their 27th World Series title and, finally, climbed out of the muck of their long and torturous drought.

"Pinstripes are bigger than baseball," Teixeira said while The Champs were in Philadelphia the other day.

Consider that a modern update of the old Joe DiMaggio line, "It's great to be young and a Yankee."

"When you play for an organization like this, you humble yourself," Tex continued.

Or you wear a lot of rings.

Andy Pettitte won the clincher on short rest, Joe Girardi proved he can fill (at least partially) Joe Torre's World Series-winning manager's office and Alex Rodriguez no longer is a postseason klutz.

The Yankees are kings of the baseball world. They are Pedro's daddies, and Sugar Daddies. The Bronx Bombers ride again.

The Commissioner's Trophy again will wake up in the city that never sleeps.

Posted on: November 1, 2009 12:46 am

Yanks grab World Series lead with 8-5 Game 3 win

PHILADELPHIA -- Alex Rodriguez, who until now could only get himself into a World Series by opting out of his contract in the middle of a game in the 2007 Boston-Colorado series, blasted a two-run homer, the first Fall Classic hit of his career in just his third World Series game.

The rest of the Yankees took it from there in a 8-5 Halloween pummeling of Cole Hamels and the Phillies in Game 3, and now things get scary for the Phillies.

It was an important win for the Yankees, and an especially damaging blow for the Phillies, because the pitching matchup in Game 4 heavily favors the Yankees.

This isn't to say that CC Sabathia is invincible, but he's been rock solid, even on three days' rest. The Phillies will hand the ball to Joe Blanton who, as a World Series starter, makes a pretty good long reliever. In three postseason appearances this year (one start), his ERA is 4.66.

It also was a disheartening loss for the Phillies because they grabbed a 3-0 lead and were threatening to bludgeon a shaky Andy Pettitte further in the second inning. They sent eight men to the plate, Pettitte walked two and he fell behind nearly everyone. The lefty was able to locate his cutter only sporadically, throwing first-pitch strikes to only two of eight Phillies in the inning.

Philadelphia's problem was, Hamels, the Brotherly Love city's darling during last year's World Series run, completely fell apart after zipping through the first 11 Yankee hitters without allowing a hit.

After that run, he lasted only 10 more hitters before the Yankees chased him. During that ugly span, he allowed A-Rod's homer, two walks, two doubles and two singles. He was like a short-order cook taking orders.

The whole while, Rodriguez's penchant for plopping himself smack in the middle of whatever's going on was on full display. He homered off of a Fox television camera in the top of the fourth to cut the Phillies' lead to 3-2, historic because it became the first homer in World Series history to be reviewed by instant replay.

Initially, it was ruled a double. But replays clearly showed it was out, and the symmetry was especially nice, too: A-Rod was involved in the first ever instant replay scenario after baseball instituted it in 2008, when another of his fly balls was ruled a homer. That was in Tampa Bay.

In the Never a Dull Moment With A-Rod Dept., however, he turned right around and booted a ground ball to start the bottom of the eighth, giving the Phillies an opening which they could not take against Pettitte. The left-hander settled down and restored order, retiring 12 of the next 14 hitters he faced as the Yankees' offense thundered to life.

Nick Swisher?

He led off the fifth with a double and came around to score. He homered in the sixth, and talk about relishing it. His trip around the bases clocked in at just under the rain delay that pushed the start of Game 3 back an hour and 20 minutes.

Johnny Damon?

Two-run double in the fifth.

Jorge Posada?

RBI single in the seventh.

And with Sabathia on deck for Game 4, the Yankees are in terrific shape.

Posted on: September 24, 2009 8:03 pm

Shorter Hops

 Don't underestimate the different look Brett Gardner's wheels give the Yankees into the playoffs. The guy can flat-out fly. Comparing Gardner with some of the American League's fastest players, like Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and his own Chone Figgins, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said gave the nod to Gardner. "He's one of the fastest guys we've seen," Scioscia said. "Put them all in a race and he might win by an eyelash."

 Damon, of course, can run -- though not like he once could -- and Robinson Cano and even Mark Teixeira make this Yankees team more athletic than some clubs in the past, especially when Jason Giambi was manning first. "We don't want to be one-dimensional, whether it's home runs or all small ball," Teixeira said. "Gardner gives us another option."

 Not surprising that the only form of celebration from the Yankees after clinching a playoff spot against the Angels the other night was a few handshakes and smiles. As Damon said, "Winning the division would make us a little happier. Unfortunately, this doesn't seal the deal for us like winning a World Series." Ah, how Johnny has grown from his Kansas City days.

 If Milton Bradley's apology was sincere, then why did Cubs players not even find out about it until the statement was issued? Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat Twittered that the players knew nothing of an apology until the statement.

 Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has been fiercely loyal to manager Eric Wedge, but with the Tribe having lost 10 in a row into Thursday night's series finale against Detroit and showing little sign of life -- combined with the fact that they're finishing a second consecutive disappointing season following high expectations -- he likely will have no choice but to make a change. The Indians have been outscored 65-25 during the losing streak and had scored three or fewer runs in seven of the 10 games. Indians starting pitchers were 0-9. When they took a 2-0 lead Thursday against Detroit, it was their first lead in 69 innings. Ugh.

 Talk about blowing up a disappointing team: As Wedge waits to learn his fate, only 10 of the current 30 Indians on the active roster were active with the club on opening day.

 Mr. Clutch: Colorado catcher Yorvit Torrealba, over his past 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position, is hitting .654.

 Jim Fregosi, now scouting for Atlanta, would love to manage again. One dark horse candidate for openings this winter: Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke, who is very good and deserves a chance to interview somewhere.

 Closest thing to solid evidence of significant changes this winter for the White Sox: General manager Kenny Williams had some strong things to say to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times this week. "I know who's quit and who hasn't, who's willing to sacrifice," Williams said. "It's hard to win. Winning and success, whether it be baseball or any other facet of life, if you are not willing to sacrifice, you're not willint go put in the work, you're not going to be successful. You're just not. ... If you are not willing to do that, I can't have you here and I will send you to a better place for you."

 Loved the fact that it was Strike Out Violence Day two Sundays ago at San Francisco's AT&T Park ... and then the game was followed by a Bob Arum press conference promoting a fight between Manny Pacquiao and another guy I've never heard of. It was almost as good as the Dodgers giving away Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Dolls on Drug Prevention Night at Dodger Stadium.

Likes: The Panda Cam, as they refer to replays on San Francisco telecasts that feature Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval. ... Bobby Cox back managing Atlanta next year. Say what you will, and I know there are detractors out there who diminish his streak of winning division titles because the Braves only won one World Series, but he's a Hall of Fame manager. ... Glad X-rays were negative after Yankees catcher Jorge Posada fouled a ball off of his foot the other night. You hate to see injuries to significant players at this time of year, especially for teams headed to the playoffs. ... My Weber grill. ... I mentioned James Maddock's disc Sunrise on Avenue C the other day. It's great. Especially great is the cut When the Suns Out. ... Entourage has been especially well-written and acted this year. Last summer, I feared it had jumped the shark.

Dislikes: There were a couple of chat-room comments on the last Bull Pennings disparaging David Letterman after I gave him a shout out for the show earlier this week when President Barack Obama was a guest. Memo to you who wrote the comments: Glad you're reading. Thanks. But sorry, you're dead wrong on Letterman. He's sharp, and it's not even close at 11:30 p.m. -- and hasn't been for a long, long time. Conan is likeable and funny. But Jay Leno? Come on. He's one of the top 10 exhibits for the dumbing down of America. ... My wife has enjoyed the first few shows of Glee, and the critics love it, but I just can't go there. If I wanted to watch pseudo-Backstreet Boys videos, I'd ... well, come to think of it, I absolutely, positively don't want to watch pseudo-Backstreet Boys videos.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I ain't got much sense
"But I still got my feet"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Girls in Their Summer Clothes

Posted on: February 17, 2009 11:57 am

Waiting for A-Rod

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Big Top, er, tent is ready and the podium is set.

Now, with disgraced slugger Alex Rodriguez expected to conduct his first public news conference at 1:30 p.m. EST today, want to know what a (Bronx) zoo this place is?

The parking lot at George M. Steinbrenner Field is jammed. So jammed that, a few minutes ago, a reporter left to make a Starbucks run and was warned by a security guard that he could not guarantee that she'd be allowed back in the parking lot -- that there'd be room -- when she returned. So she bagged the Starbucks run.

Meantime, before the Yankees' morning workout, their clubhouse was crammed with media. If you're the least bit claustrophobic, it wasn't a good place to be.

Veteran pitcher Brett Tomko, in camp trying to win a bullpen job, put it best as he threaded his way from the front door toward his locker in the back of the room.

"It's like going around landmines here," he said of dodging all the reporters. "It feels like playing hoops and you're making your way around defenders."

As of 10:15 a.m., when they closed the clubhouse and the Yankees prepared to go to the field, several key players, including Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, still were absent. And there was no sight of A-Rod, yet.

Today is reporting day, with the Yankees first full-squad workout scheduled for Wednesday.

See ya after the A-Rod show.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com