The left-handed hitter was with the Tampa Bay Rays last season and hit .261/.326/.743 with 16 home runs. For what it's worth, the Indians' current leadoff hitter, Michael Brantley, is hitting .250/.321/.676.
The Indians have a one game lead in the Central Division after the first month of the season.
Back on April 17 the Cleveland Indians officially announced that they were signing veteran outfielder Johnny Damon to a minor league deal in order to try and add a bit of pop to their offense. He was originally signed to play at extended spring training down in Arizona for a time before joining the AAA club down in Columbus, and indeed has been doing extended ST for two weeks down at the Indians facility.
Revealing perhaps the worst kept secret in Cleveland, the Indians officially announced on Tuesday that they have signed veteran outfielder Johnny Damon to a minor league contract. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that Damon is at the Tribe's facility in Goodyear, Arizona going through baseball workouts.
As was widely reported last week, Damon's deal is for one year at $1.25 million, with the potential to reach $1.4 million if he hits certain performance bonuses. Damon will spend two weeks in the minors and likely report to the big league club in early May, when he will be added to the 40-man. It's not clear exactly where Damon will fit in, with Shelley Duncan playing well in left field right now. Damon acknowledged this in an appearance on MLB Network Radio last week. Via Indians.com:
"I need to go out there and show people I can still play there," Damon said in an interview Thursday on the MLB Network Radio channel on SiriusXM. "Right now, Shelley Duncan is the starting left fielder. I know they are going to rotate me in and give him a breather but, you know, I also understand this game, too.
"If Shelley Duncan is on fire at the plate, he's going to play. And if I am, they are going to find a place for me."
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Damon hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 home runs and 19 stolen bases last season for over $5 million with the Tampa Bay Rays, so the Indians are arguably getting quite the bargain for the 38-year-old veteran.
Damon will still need time to get in game shape since he is joining the Indians without the luxury of a Spring Training and without facing live pitching since the end of last season. He will have to play outfield, too, because the Indians already have Travis Hafner as their primary designated hitter.
The Cleveland Indians could be close to getting a deal done with outfielder Johnny Damon, at least according to everybody not in the Indians organization. There were earlier reports that a deal "should be done soon," from the Associated Press, though nothing official. As it stands now, there's still nothing official, but Jim Bowden of ESPN is throwing his hat in the ring with a confirmation of sorts:
Damon has confirmed his agreement with the Indians while we were taping an interview with him for INSIDE PITCH @mlbnetworkradio XM 89
Bowden then goes on to add that Damon has said he'd give Jason Kipnis a nice watch in exchange for #22, so if that substance does anything for you, there's that. It's just odd that there's nothing from the Indians at this point, especially if the deal is, in fact, agreed upon.
At any rate, it seems like something will get done, given that Damon is unemployed and the Indians have the lowest batting average in the majors, sporting a team average of .176. He's not an absolute solution to their offensive woes, but it's clear there's a big need there.
It appears that the Cleveland Indians are very close to signing outfielder Johnny Damon, who sat out all spring waiting for a call. Tom Withers of the Associated Press received a text from Damon on Thursday morning, indicating that a deal was close.
Via Tom Withers of AP:
Received text from outfielder Johnny Damon on possible deal with #Indians: "It should be done soon."
While Damon wasn't terribly productive with the Tigers and Rays, the Indians currently have the lowest batting average in the majors with a team average of .176. With Grady Sizemore out until at least June, and completely unreliable, adding another outfielder this early in the season with the struggles at the plate apparently has GM Chris Antonetti negotiating with Damon.
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