Johnny Damon was signed by Cleveland two weeks ago to jumpstart the Indians struggling offense. Tonight, he gets a chance to do just that when Cleveland continues a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
"That's the way we mapped it out with Johnny last week," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He just flew in [Monday] night from Arizona, so we planned out that [on Tuesday] he'd just run around, take batting practice with his new teammates, start to feel comfortable around people here and then play [on Wednesday]."
Damon, though, will be joining a team that has managed just 19 runs over their last eight games (3-5) and have scored two runs or less in five of those contests.
Damon, who will lead off and play left field for the Tribe, may not be the player he once was, but is a career .286 hitter over 17 seasons with the Royals, A's, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Rays. He's also cracked 231 homers and is also just 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.
"I see it as an opportunity," Damon said. "The fact that I didn't play outfield the last couple of years kept teams away some [over the offseason]. They didn't know what they were getting. I know I can still chase some balls down."
Last year the 38-year-old hit .261 with 16 home runs, 29 doubles and 73 RBI with 19 stolen bases in 150 games for Tampa Bay last year.
But, while the offense may be floundering, Damon also joins an Indians team that is currently tied atop the American League Central standings with the White Sox and Detroit Tigers.
Chicago moved into a tie with the Tribe in Tuesday's opener, as Gordon Beckham hit a home run and drove in two runs while collecting three hits in the White Sox' 7-2 win. A.J. Pierzynski also homered and six different White Sox recorded at least one RBI for Chicago, which won its second straight on the heels of a five-game skid.
Chris Sale (3-1) allowed one run on just three hits and one walk while striking out three over six frames to post the win.
"Our hitters are taking advantage of every opportunity. I'm just trying to pull my weight," Sale said.
Ubaldo Jimenez (2-2) was tagged for seven runs -- four earned -- on eight hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings. Shelley Duncan doubled, homered and scored twice in a losing effort, Cleveland's fourth in six tries.
He's working out some mechanical issues and we saw some progress today but he still didn't throw enough strikes...and we didn't help him out at all," said Acta.
Heading to the hill for the Indians tonight will be righty Josh Tomlin, who is 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA this season. Tomlin lost to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, surrendering four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Tomlin lost to the White Sox earlier in the year in his only other appearance against them.
Chicago will counter with righty Philip Humber, who was banged around his last time out in his first start following his perfect game. Humber was roughed up by the Boston Red Sox on Thursday for nine runs in five innings, dropping him to 1-1 on the year, while raising his ERA more than four runs to 4.66.
"This game will humble you," Humber said after the outing against Boston. "It will make you feel good one day and make you feel bad the next.
Humber is 0-1 with a 6.91 ERA in five games (three starts) against the Indians.
The White Sox, who won the first two meetings this season, are 8-3-1 in season series with the Tribe since 2000.