- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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As intriguing as it may sound, the chances of a Johnny Damon return to the Bronx appear unlikely.
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on Thursday downplayed reports that he was talking with Damon and his agent, Scott Boras, about a possible return to the Yankees after a one-year exile to Detroit.
"It was just part of our canvassing process," Cashman said about whatever contact he had with Damon, who hit .271 with eight homers and 51 RBIs in 145 games for the Tigers, mostly at the designated hitter spot.
"It's something we do with every free agent," Cashman said. "I can't tell you if anything's going to happen there. There's not a clear role for him here.''
Damon played just 73 games in the outfield last season, and with the Yankees' starting outfield pretty much set with Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher, and Jorge Posada set to assume the DH duties in 2011, it is difficult to say where the 37-year-old Damon would fit in.
And the Yankees, who reportedly offered Damon a two-year contract worth $14 million last winter that was rejected, would not pay Damon anything near the $8 million he was paid by Detroit for 2010.
The same goes for Marcus Thames, the Yankees' right-handed hitting DH last year who is a free agent and has yet to sign with anyone.
"This year, I've got a switch-hitting DH, so it doesn't seem to make sense going forward,'' Cashman said.
The GM also shot down a report the Yankees were interested in free-agent right-hander Freddy Garcia or former NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb, who is trying to return after nearly two years of inactivity following rotator-cuff surgery.
According to a scouting report, Webb's fastball was clocked between 79 mph and 81 mph in instructional league play this September.
"I'm trying to get a utility infielder, I'm trying to get a right-handed hitting outfielder, I'm trying to get a starter and I'm trying to get a reliever,'' Cashman said. "I'm working on things, but they have to make sense for us.''
Right now, Johnny Damon 2.0 in pinstripes doesn't really seem to.