Johnny Damon on denying the Red Sox waiver claim: “I felt like being with these kids the rest of the year was a much better option for me.”

August 30, 2010 – 9:45 am by timgunter

With the Detroit Tigers ten games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins in the AL Central division, Johnny Damon did something very few players would ever do.  He blocked a late season waiver-trade to a playoff contending team, but it wasn’t just any team.  It was the Boston Red Sox, the team he played with for four seasons and won the ’04 World Series title with, who claimed him off trade waivers.  There are many theories circulating as to why the Red Sox claimed him because claims are often made with the intention of blocking other teams.  Boston is in the middle of a pennant race and their division opponents would have most likely claimed Damon and improve both teams instantly.  Although his defensive skills have been on a steady decline, he still has some pop in his bat.

Strategic moves like this happen all of the time in baseball.  It would have been a slam dunk for Damon to accept a move to Boston if the Red Sox truly wanted him, but the move was merely strategic.  So Damon felt like it would be in the best interest for the Tigers and for him and his family to stay in Detroit.

Johnny Damon joined 590 the Fan in Toronto to talk about whether denying the Red Sox their waiver claim was a tough decision, on the notion that a lot of other players would have left Detroit for a playoff contending team, and whether he told the Detroit Tigers organization that he would volunteer to accept a trade only if it would make the Tigers better for the 2011 season and then come this offseason.

Whether denying the Red Sox their waiver claim was a tough decision:

“Well it was but my teammates made it a lot easier on me.  They wanted me to stay, I wanted to stay because I chose Detroit for a reason because I wanted to play for them and anytime a player has stuff under his control it is a lot better.  I was able to make a decision that I feel that is right and that was to stay in Detroit because everything that we have been through this year with the ups and downs and that is all of us doing that together and if I would have went to Boston it would have been more a story about me than the team.  I think that would have been a big distraction on their team and I felt like it wasn’t the right thing to do, to jump ship with my current team and that is why I decided to stay.”

On the notion that a lot of other players would have left Detroit for a playoff contending team:

“Right, and I don’t believe in that.  I believe in that you try to finish what you started.  The reason why we are where we are is because of everybody in here.  We win and lose games together and we ran through a tough spell.  We do have a great team, a lot of great young players and I think that would be sending them the wrong message when things get tough, it is time to bail.  I don’t believe in that.  I believe we are stuck with each other.  Obviously trades and free agency happens and you have to deal with that.  This was something that I could control and I felt like being with these kids the rest of the year was a much better option for me.”

Whether he told the Detroit Tigers organization that he would volunteer to accept a trade only if it would make the Tigers better for the 2011 season and then come this offseason:

“Yeah that is what I told them.  I was very gracious that Detroit wanted to sign me in the offseason and I was willing to do whatever they thought was best.  I would have waived it but after hearing what the fans were saying and what the players were saying I don’t think the front office really wanted to move me.  They left it up to me and that again I am very gracious because they could have just said that we have a few players that we want back and we are sending you but they thought about my feelings, my family and thought about the team that they have right now.”

What he has learned about the city of Detroit while living there this season:

“Well that is another reason why I wanted to stay.  It seems like a lot of people bag on Detroit without even knowing it.  Yeah it is a great city and they are going through a tough economic period and they have been for quite some time.  I feel like the fans of Detroit, the people, they want to have something to be proud of.  The fact that I stayed they have belief, they believe you can overcome stuff, our city is great, our city is improving to get better and our team is going to stay strong and loyal for a very long time.”

Johnny Damon on the Fan 590 in Toronto with Johnny Damon

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