Indians part ways with .222-hitting Johnny Damon

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Cleveland gave Johnny Damon three months to show he still had some gas left in the tank, but the 38-year-old hit just .222 with four homers and a .610 OPS in 64 games and today the Indians designated him for assignment.

Damon has actually been fairly decent since a brutal start, hitting .280 with a .711 OPS in 29 games since mid-June, but even during that stretch his .302 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage are hardly solid production for a poor defensive left fielder.

This may be the end of the line for Damon, who hasn’t cracked an .800 OPS since 2009 and no longer has the on-base skills or top-notch speed to really be an asset atop the lineup even when he’s hitting for a decent batting average.

Damon, who has 2,769 hits, 408 steals, and 235 homers during his 18-season career, earned $1.25 million in guaranteed money as a part of a contract signed in mid-April. Cleveland recalled Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A to replace him.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.