Two weeks after signing with the Indians on a minor-league contract Johnny Damon is expected to join the team for their series against the White Sox that begins tomorrow, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Damon has been playing extended spring training games to get ready and has apparently looked good enough that they canceled plans to have him spend some time at Triple-A.
As part of his contract Damon can opt out on Tuesday if he’s not in the majors, but with Shelley Duncan in an extended slump and the Indians’ lineup failing to produce much of anything last week the 38-year-old veteran figures to see significant action in left field right away.
At this point in his career Damon is hardly an impact hitter, posting a .261 batting average with 16 homers and a modest .743 OPS in 150 games for the Rays last season, but if spotted mostly versus right-handed pitching he can still be useful and his contract is worth just $1.25 million in guaranteed money once he cracks the big-league roster. He can earn another $1.4 million in incentives.
While newly-acquired talent Danny Espinosa was off collecting hits for the Blue Jays against the Orioles, Marcus Stroman led a youth-filled roster against the Canadian Junior National Team in a split-squad game on Saturday. In the eighth inning, 17-year-old Canadian pitcher Braden Halladay took the mound to honor his late father’s memory against his former team.
Halladay accomplished just that, wielding a fastball that topped out in the low-80s and setting down a perfect 1-2-3 inning against the top of the lineup. No one batter saw more than a single pitch from the right-hander: Mc Gregory Contreras and Mattingly Romanin flew out to the outfield corners and Bo Bichette laid down a ground ball for an easy third out.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm has a fantastic profile of the high school junior, including his approach to the game and his attempt to do Roy Halladay proud while carving out his own path to the majors. “From a pitching standpoint, it was everything I could have asked for and more,” Halladay told reporters. “Especially now, every time I make mistakes, I still hear him drilling me about them in my head, just because he’s done it so many times before. From a mind-set standpoint, I don’t think with any bias that I could have had a better teacher.”