Johnny Damon is thinking over whether he wants to return to Boston. He has until Wednesday afternoon to decide.
He confirmed that the Red Sox have claimed him on waivers. Now there are three options:
1. The Tigers pull him back.
2. The Tigers make a trade with the Red Sox.
3. The Tigers let him go for nothing, leaving the Red Sox on the hook for roughly $1.8 million.
Damon’s contract has a clause requiring him to approve a trade to all but eight teams on a list. The Yankees and Rays are on that list, the Red Sox are not. So Damon could seek financial incentive to approve the deal.
Here is what he told reporters in Detroit earlier today:
“It’s probably as tough of a decision for me to make right now as it was for me to leave Boston for New York. It’s something that, fortunately, we have some time to think about,” he said.
“At this moment, I’m not sure I want to leave Detroit for that. I enjoy playing here. I enjoy the kids I’m playing for, the coaching staff. But obviously, Terry Francona is amazing. But it’s something that I’m going to have think long and hard over.
“I had a great time playing there. 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.”
“The only reason why I would be considering it is to help out this team in the future. 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.”
As for playing in Boston again, Damon has mixed feelings.
“I had a great time playing there, and I did everything I could to go back,” he said. “I told the team what it would take, in terms of dollars and years – but it got ugly when it became apparent that re-signing me wasn’t a priority.”
Damon said the booing and cursing he received from Red Sox fans while he played in the Yankees “absolutely” bothered him.
“If I do this, and we pulled everything together and I could help them get into the postseason, it would change everything again,” he said.
Damon is hitting .270 with 30 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBIs. But he has played only 36 games in the outfield this season and is hitting .219 in August (16 of 78) with eight RBIs and 20 strikeouts.
Jason Varitek is all for the idea of Damon returning to Boston.
“He’s a special player. He’s pushing Hall of Fame-type numbers. And you add that Johnny’s great in the clubhouse, he’s a gamer on the field and one hell of a teammate,” said the Red Sox captain, who called Damon one of his favorite teammates.
“It would be a nice opportunity. But we’ll let him do what he needs to do to see what happens.” … Johnny knows we love him and always have. It’s wishful thinking right now.”