Damon put on DL for first time after hitting wall
NEW YORK -- Johnny Damon stood in a corridor outside the New York Yankees clubhouse on Sunday afternoon, sounding sullen. He had just been put on the disabled list for the first time in his major league career after 13½ seasons and 1,927 regular-season games.
"I really don't know what I have to do now," the outfielder said softly. "Every day in my career when I went to the ballpark, I actually felt like I could get in the game somehow. Even yesterday, I was getting ready to get my shoes on in case I needed to run for [Jason] Giambi or something late. Today there's no way I can get in this ballgame."
Damon sprained and bruised his left shoulder when he crashed into the left-field fence trying for a leaping catch against Boston on Friday. While the pain subsided slightly Sunday, the swelling increased.
"It's disappointing, but I knew the team needed to get another body," Damon said. "We just have to be smart for my sake and the team's sake. There wasn't much I was going to be able to do."
Damon, hitting .319 at the top of the batting order, hopes to return on July 20, when he is eligible to be activated. The 34-year-old thinks he should be able to swing a bat before he's able to throw, but he's not quite sure of what the timetable will be.
To get an idea, Damon consulted Xavier Nady, who had a similar injury. Because Yankee Stadium's facility will be unavailable during the All-Star break, Damon likely will rehab at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla.
"I don't think this is anything long-term," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Is it 15 days, 20 days, you know? Is it a little bit longer? I don't know."
To fill Damon's roster spot, New York recalled outfielder Justin Christian from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. With Hideki Matsui (sore left knee) also on the DL, rookie Brett Gardner will become the Yankees' regular left fielder.
"He creates a lot of havoc when he's on the bases. He changes the defense," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's constant pressure on pitchers when he's on base, to pay attention to him."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press