Damon joins Indians, expected to start Wednesday
CHICAGO (AP) Johnny Damon has joined the Cleveland Indians and manager Manny Acta plans to put his new outfielder in the starting lineup Wednesday.
The team purchased Damon's contract Tuesday and made room on the roster by designating infielder Jose Lopez for assignment before the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox.
Acta said the plan was for Damon to spend a day with his new teammates and take batting practice in Chicago before starting Wednesday night.
The 38-year-old Damon, now in his 18th major league season, needs 277 hits to reach 3,000. He signed a minor league deal with the Indians on April 17 and has spent the last few weeks getting ready at the club's facility in Goodyear, Ariz.
"We felt it was a more controlled environment where he could get more at-bats a day and he felt good over there," Acta said. "We had a training staff that was taking care of him, enough coaches over there ... and the staff over there felt good about how quick he got his timing down."
Damon has a .286 career average. He ranks third among active players in runs (1,643) and fourth in doubles (516). The Indians hope he can help their injury-depleted outfield and spark an inconsistent offense.
Cleveland began the night with an 11-9 record and a one-game lead in the AL Central.
"He's going to make our team better," Acta said. "He had a pretty solid season last year (with Tampa Bay). He's been there and done that. He's got instant credibility with these guys and he's an outstanding teammate who's going to help all these younger guys here. We're excited to add him to the mix."
Damon's minor league contract now becomes a $1.25 million, one-year major league deal. His actual pay will be $1,065,574, the prorated share of his $1.25 million salary. He could make another $1.4 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances.
Lopez opened the season with the Indians and appeared in five games. He hit .190 in 21 plate appearances. The Indians have 10 days to trade, release or send him outright to the minors.
Updated May 1, 2012