Johnny Damon is engaged in a one-man lobbying effort to stay in the Bronx. Every few weeks, after delivering another huge home run or game-winning hit, Damon restates his dream of staying in New York. He said something to the effect two weeks ago and reiterated his desire again yesterday.
Speaking with MLB.com beat writer Bryan Hoch before the game yesterday, Damon chatted about his desire to get to 3000 hits and his desire for one more contract. Damon is 689 hits short and says he wants to retire shortly before his 40th birthday. He obviously wants to stay in New York.
“This would definitely be the best place for me,” Damon said. “I feel like this could be my last chance to be on a winner, so I understand the free-agent game, how it is. We have a bunch of young outfielders coming up. I can’t concern myself with that. I have to go out and play every day and pretend like it could be my last chance to get to the playoffs or possibly make a World Series run.”
Damon with his nine home runs has certainly enjoyed playing in the home run-happy Yankee Stadium. He’s not afraid to admit that, either. “I’d sure love to keep taking advantage of that right-field porch,” Damon said to Hoch.
The Yanks will have a decision to make with Damon. They know what they’re getting with him. He’ll play hard, and he’ll play every day, aching or not. Considering our discussion on the age of the Yanks yesterday, though, I’m not so sure the Yankees should include Damon in their long-term plans. He’s not your prototypical DH type even though he could probably keep pace with the average AL DH.
At 35, he’s heading toward a dangerous part of his career. He’ll slow down a bit both with the bat and on the base paths. He wants just one four-year contract, but like Bobby Abreu last year, he probably won’t find it if the Yanks don’t give it to him. Right now, if I had to bet, I’d say they don’t.