The 2012 regular season officially starts two weeks from today when the Mariners and Athletics meet in Tokyo, but Johnny Damon still doesn't have a job. He spoke to Casey Stern and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio yesterday to discuss his current situation...
"I know I've proven a lot, and if the right opportunity comes up, I'll take it," said Damon. "I think the biggest thing holding me back right now, is what if I do take a backup job somewhere, what if somebody gets hurt somewhere else where I would probably prefer to be at? That's why I'm taking my time."
"It's difficult, because I feel like I had pretty good year last year," he added. "From a stat standpoint, better than more than half the players out there."
Damon was linked to the Orioles earlier this month, but GM Dan Duquette quickly shot that down. Another AL East team and one of the 38-year-old's former employers - the Yankees - were in the market for a DH-type earlier this offseason before settling on Raul Ibanez. As Damon said, he was willing to return to New York and money wasn't an obstacle...
"Obviously, at this point of my career, I want to have some say in who I can and can't play with," he said. "I just wanted to make sure [GM Brian Cashman] knew it wasn't about money. Pay me whatever, and I'll try to help you win a championship."
The Tigers also have some appeal to Damon, who played in Detroit in 2010. They don't have a clearly defined DH at the moment if they stick to the plan of playing Miguel Cabrera at third and Prince Fielder at first, so on the surface there appears to be a fit. That's not necessarily the case though.
"I think the biggest thing is just the number of bodies, and possibly their loyalty to Magglio Ordonez if they were going to bring in a DH," said Damon.
Damon hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers and 19 steals in 647 plate appearances for the Rays last year, though he's only played 352 1/3 innings in the outfield since leaving the Yankees after 2009. He's also 277 hits away from 3,000 for his career, which could be a factor in his decision to hold out for an everyday job rather than accept a platoon or bench role.