Red Sox Seek Trade For Johnny Damon

By Alastair Ingram

The Red Sox claimed Johnny Damon off waivers from the Tigers on Monday, and there are countless reasons to be intrigued by the move. There are also various reasons to believe that Damon won’t be back for his second stint in Boston.

Are the Sox blocking Damon from potentially being dealt to the Rays? Are the Sox ready to assume the remaining $1.8 million of Damon’s 2010 salary? But the biggest question of all: Is Damon willing to return to Fenway Park, a venue in which he’s been booed relentlessly since his departure 5 years ago…?

July 19, 2010: Detroit Tigers designated hitter Johnny Damon (18) during the MLB baseball game between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

On paper, the decision to claim Damon makes tons of sense. For starters, the Sox could certainly use a leadoff hitter who can also provide depth in a banged up outfield. Secondly, they can instantaneously block Damon from being moved to the Wild Card-leading Rays.

At this point in the season, with all the injuries Boston has been forced to endure, one hopes this wasn’t just a classic block situation. It would appear as though the Sox legitimately want Damon, but it’s unclear if Damon wants them back.

The self-proclaimed idiot who helped lead the Sox to a World Series title in 2004 was admittedly hurt by the way things ended just a year after that championship season. The Sox were unwilling offer Damon the 4 year deal that he was eventually given by the Yankees.

Damon took $52 million to play for the arch rivals in the Bronx and was subsequently booed at every opportunity by Red Sox Nation. This impacted Damon to the point where he is reportedly leaning toward staying in Detroit, instead of chasing a playoff berth in Beantown.

I certainly hope that this animosity between Damon and the Red Sox front office and/or fans doesn’t prevent the club from finally fixing a glaring need before they’re mathematically eliminated.

If they’re blocking him from the Rays, it’s a positive outcome regardless of Damon’s decision. If they don’t want to take on any salary, it supports every move the Sox haven’t made over the past month. But if Damon doesn’t want to come back to Boston because of a few dollars and boo birds, it would be frustrating.

Sure the Sox are crawling back to Damon in a state of desperation, but a return to Fenway would mend all the wounds created over the last half decade. All memories of his days in pinstripes would be forgotten, and Damon would be welcomed back with open arms.

It would take some pride on Damon’s part, but there’s no doubt that it would be a case of taking the high road. Helping the Sox make the playoffs would rival his grand slam off Javier Vazquez in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. It has story book potential.

But from Damon’s perspective, why would he drop everything in Detroit to come back to place in which he doesn’t feel welcome to help a team with a microscopic chance of earning a postseason berth?

It’s a valid question, but let’s hope the Utopian perspective prevails: Damon grows a beard, bats in the leadoff spot, and leads the Red Sox in a miraculous pennant race. Sounds ideal doesn’t it?

If it wasn’t just a block (and I certainly hope it wasn’t), the ball is in Damon’s court.

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