How badly does Johnny Damon not want to return to Boston? We’ll find out shortly. Now that the Red Sox have claimed Damon on waivers, the ball is in Damon’s court: He can either agree to return to Boston — where he left on less-than-great terms, something he spoke of just last week at Yankee Stadium — or he can opt to stay in Detroit, far away from the postseason, playing out the string and collecting a paycheck far from the madness of the A.L. East. Reportedly, he’s leaning toward the latter.
Technically, those aren’t the only options: Detroit could always pull him back off waivers, but since letting Damon leave would save them about $1.8 million, it’s hard to see why they’d bother. Otherwise, it’s pretty much up to Damon. If he’s willing to go to Boston, Detroit can either try to work out a trade, or just let him go for nothing, at least saving themselves the money he’d be owed.
This isn’t a goodwill gesture on Boston’s part, an attempt to improve relations with one of their World Series–winning idiots. They’re still in the playoff hunt, just five and a half games out in the wild-card race. But their claim likely had less to do with wanting Damon back than wanting to keep him away from Tampa Bay, who could use a bat for the stretch run. After all, Damon’s a full-time designated hitter these days, and that’s one position at which the Sox don’t have injury woes. And while Damon’s not the game-changer he once was, he’s still a potent bat with plenty of postseason experience.
As of last night, Damon appeared ready to nix the move, telling reporters that he’s “definitely leaning toward staying.” But he’s got until tomorrow afternoon to make a decision, plenty of time for that to sway in the other direction.