Ezequiel Carrera catches a ball with his eyes closed.
Designated OF Johnny Damon for assignment
Recalled OF Ezequiel Carrera from Columbus (AAA)
When the Indians didn't land one of the free agent outfielders (such as Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, or Josh Willingham), they responded by acquiring Aaron Cunningham from San Diego, Russ Canzler from Tampa Bay, signing several minor-league free agents (including Felix Pie, Fred Lewis, and Ryan Spilborghs) in the hopes that (a) Grady Sizemore would be healthy, meaning that they would only need a fourth outfielder, and (b) someone would separate themselves from the pack in spring training for that fourth spot.
When Sizemore injured his back just days into spring training, that battle for the four outfield spot became a battle for the starting left fielder. But no one from that sizable contingent of acquisitions and signings really made an impression, so the Indians went with Shelly Duncan (who had ended the 2011 season well) as the left fielder and Cunningham (who was out of options) as the fourth outfielder. But they weren't content with those two, and contemplated acquiring Bobby Abreu from the Angels towards the end of the spring training, and eventually would sign Johnny Damon a couple weeks into the season.
Damon had had nice seasons with the Tigers (105 OPS+) and Rays (109 OPS+) since leaving the Yankees in 2009, but this time he had waited to sign with a club until after spring training was over. This had a major effect on his swing; he played just a couple weeks of extended spring games, then joined the club on May 2, and hit .171/.261/.251. The Indians banked on him eventually recovering from this brutal start, and he did somewhat, hitting .254/.319/.444 in June, but he slumped again in July, and it was becoming obvious that it just wasn't going to work out. So before Friday's game, Chris Antonetti traveled to Detroit to let Damon know that he was being released.
"We had to make a tough decision," Acta said. "Johnny is just first class. He made an impact on a lot of people here, despite not performing the way he was expecting and how we were expecting. I can only imagine how much impact he could've made here if he would've performed better.
"He gave everything he had. He was really helpful to some of our young kids. He was a total pro about it."
If this is the end for Damon, he's had an excellent career, finishing with a career .284/.352/.433 and finishing just 231 hits shy of 3000. I think there's a chance he gives it a go for 2013, even if it's on a minor-league deal, to see what he could do with a normal spring.
With the Indians now out of contention, they were going to need to look at other players over the last two months of the season. The problem is that the Indians don't really have a prospect that they'd be willing to give the left field job to. The closest guy to an outfield prospect in the upper minors is Tim Fedroff, who is 25 years old and has really been hitting well in Columbus (.373/433/.600), and if I had to pick one guy to go with over the next seven weeks, he'd be the one.
But for now Carrera is back with the big-league club, serving as a true backup to Brantley in center and getting some starts in left field. Carrera had an extended run with the Indians last season because both Sizemore and Brantley were injured, and he hit .243/.301/.312 in 226 PA, really fading late in the season. He has been the everyday center fielder for Columbus this season, and has been hot in July, hitting 385/.434/.578 for the Clippers.
Johnny Damon Career Stats
|162 Game Avg.||162||710||109||180||34||7||15||74||27||7||65||82||.284||.352||.433||.785||104|
|KCR (6 yrs)||803||3407||504||894||156||47||65||352||156||42||275||350||.292||.351||.438||.789||101|
|BOS (4 yrs)||597||2782||461||730||136||29||56||299||98||21||262||284||.295||.362||.441||.803||108|
|NYY (4 yrs)||576||2525||410||636||125||15||77||296||93||21||268||344||.285||.363||.458||.821||112|
|TBR (1 yr)||150||647||79||152||29||7||16||73||19||6||51||92||.261||.326||.418||.743||109|
|OAK (1 yr)||155||719||108||165||34||4||9||49||27||12||61||70||.256||.324||.363||.687||83|
|CLE (1 yr)||64||224||25||46||6||2||4||19||4||0||17||27||.222||.281||.329||.610||72|
|DET (1 yr)||145||613||81||146||36||5||8||51||11||1||69||90||.271||.355||.401||.756||105|
Ezequiel Carrera Combined Career Stats
|162 Game Avg.||162||540||66||120||19||7||0||33||23||12||38||85||.248||.305||.316||.620||76|