CLEVELAND: Johnny Damon began Friday night’s game with a .171 batting average, one home run and five RBI, so the obvious question is: “What’s wrong with Johnny Damon?”
Unfortunately for Damon and the Indians, the answer isn’t readily forthcoming.
Manager Manny Acta thinks that missing spring training entirely has caused a drag on Damon’s production.
“What I think is that it’s a lack of spring training,” Acta said Friday. “There aren’t many guys who could just step into a major-league season without going through spring training. Sometimes guys think they’re ready to go, but they need that repetition.”
Damon never has used that as an excuse. And his current total of 82 at-bats probably is at least 30 more than he would have received during exhibition season.
“I never felt like I needed a lot of at-bats in spring training,” he said. “I just haven’t been doing the job. But you can’t start thinking about everything, like where your hands and feet should be.
“I felt when I first came here, I was taking too many pitches and letting a lot of good ones go by. The biggest thing is to put myself in a better hitting position.”
Damon isn’t happy with his offense, but he’s been around long enough to know his fortunes can change in an instant.
“Things definitely are not going the way I wanted,” he said. “But I understand that this game is hard. You’re not going to see me get too crazy, getting too high or too low. The month I’ve been here, these guys have done pretty well and that’s without me doing much. So maybe if I can get going, it will help.”
Acta continues to see signs that Damon is hitting the ball harder.
“He’s been better as of late, so we’ll see where that takes us,” Acta said.
Added Damon: “I’m still trying to feel the way I did last year, the way I was driving the ball. I’ve only done that a few times this season.”
The clock might be running on Damon. When Grady Sizemore is ready to come off the disabled list, probably around the middle of the month, the Tribe’s deep thinkers will have to make a decision that could involve Damon’s future with the team.
“I don’t know,” Damon said, when asked if he is under any time pressure. “That’s something the organization has to have in place. But if I’m hitting at the end of the month the way I’ve been hitting, this is going to be an early [short] summer for me.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.