Johnny Damon wasn’t in the Indians’ lineup yesterday because they were facing a tough left-hander in Chris Sale, but manager Manny Acta revealed that he’ll likely serve as the team’s leadoff man when he does play.
That’s certainly nothing new for Damon, who’s batted leadoff in more than 1,500 games during his 17-year career, but he’s done so a total of just 46 times in the previous three seasons and last season posted a below-average on-base percentage for the first time since 2001.
Acta of course chose to cite Damon’s career numbers in explaining the decision to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Other than the fact that he has a .355 lifetime on-base percentage in the leadoff spot, he’s close to 3,000 hits, and the fact that over the last three years he’s hit lefties better than righties? What else do you want me to give you? He’s been very effective doing that in his career.
All of which would be extremely compelling reasoning if not for the fact that Damon is 38 years old and posted a .326 OBP in 2011. If he’s still capable of an OBP around .350 the signing will have been an excellent one for Cleveland.
Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.
It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.
Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.
The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.