News that Johnny Damon could be returning to the Red Sox put a twinkle in the eyes of those who knew him and played with him.
“Yeah! Party like rock star,” said a gleeful David Ortiz.
From Tim Wakefield to Jason Varitek and everyone else, Damon would be a breath of fresh air to everyone on a team that could use the infusion of a veteran with a background in the dramatic. Damon is a winning player and the Red Sox could use one of those in their depleted lineup.
But not so fast.
Damon can veto a deal to Boston and he told Fanhouse baseball writer Ed Price that he’s not inclined to come to Boston and reiterated that to Globe baseball writer Peter Abraham. The Red Sox claimed Damon, who was placed on trade waivers by the Tigers last Thursday. Teams have 48 hours to put in a claim and the the team with the worst position in the standings in the same league is awarded the claim. But Damon’s contract allows him the right to refuse coming back to Boston.
“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,” Damon told reporters in Detroit.
“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,” he said
“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,” Damon said.
The Red Sox might have been trying to block Tampa Bay or New York from getting to Damon. The Rays have been looking for a lefthanded hitting outfielder and Damon would be a perfect fit for that lineup. Damon is also from Orlando and would likely want to play in St. Petersburg.
The Red Sox have been pretty quiet in adding a veteran presence to their lineup, but this could happen if the Tigers simply decide to award Boston the claim or decide to work out a trade for the veteran outfielder. There’s 48 hours to go before anything needs to be decided. The Tigers could also pull him back.
Damon earns $8 million this season.
UPDATE, 5:41 p.m.: Damon has told writers covering the Tigers that it’s a difficult decision and he is thinking about it. In Boston, Jason Varitek endorsed the idea, saying Damon is a great teammate and a great player.