Johnny Damon has hit just .172 in 16 games since joining the Indians at the beginning of the month, providing little return on a one-year, $1.25 million contract with another $1.4 million in potential incentives.
Manny Acta has already removed Damon from the leadoff spot, but the manager indicated that he’s not close to benching the 38-year-old veteran:
We don’t have a timetable or anything. Damon is here to play for us up until he doesn’t want to be here. We signed Damon to be part of the Cleveland Indians. Johnny was signed to be part of this ballclub until the end.
It probably helps Damon’s cause that the Indians are in first place at 23-18 and the rest of the lineup has been decent, putting Cleveland in the middle of the AL pack for run scoring.
Obviously any time a 38-year-old struggles it’s natural to wonder if he’s finished as a productive regular, particularly in Damon’s case when he sat out all of April while trying to find a new team. One positive sign within his overall struggles is that Damon has more walks (9) than strikeouts (6) in 67 plate appearances, suggesting that he hasn’t been overmatched at the plate even if the hits haven’t come yet. Otherwise, though, it’s been pretty ugly.
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.