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.
When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.
The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.
Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.
Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.
The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.
Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.
Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:
Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.