With Spring Training Near, Johnny Damon's Still Far From a Job - NBC New York

With Spring Training Near, Johnny Damon's Still Far From a Job

The Johnny Damon saga won't end well



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    There's something about slogging through a mid-February blizzard that makes a man quite happy to notice that Spring Training is just around the corner. Winter has had its teeth into us long enough, it's time for a fresh start and there's no better way to get one of those than the beginning of a baseball season.

    From what we can read in dispatches from around the country, Johnny Damon is desperately in need of such a start. The left fielder, who could be witnessed on YES Wednesday afternoon as a young member of the Royals taking on Andy Pettitte in the 1996 home opener at a snowy Yankee Stadium, has been all over the news begging someone to give him a job.

    Damon's letting Atlanta writers know that he'd love to sign up with the Braves, which is milder than other forms of job seeking going on. His agent Scott Boras, in a nod to both the playoff tradition of the Red Wings and Detroit's Greektown neighborhood, told the Detroit Free Press that Damon always eats octopus when they go to Greek restaurants. It's pretty pathetic that this is what the fourth leading run scorer of the American League has come to in order to get a job, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

    There's a report that the Braves have offered him a one-year deal with some deferred money, which is something Damon has insisted he'd never accept. If Damon winds up signing that contract it will be pretty sad. He could have accepted that deal from the Yankees, something that would have benefited both the team and player tremendously.

    He's not the only local baseballer still out of work so close to Spring Training. Carlos Delgado is talking about retirement after failing to pick up any solid offers from teams interested in his services for the 2010 season. Given his injury history, defensive limitations and age, it's hard to see how he could gin up more than a look-see from a big league club. Well, it would be hard if the Mets hadn't just signed Mike Jacobs, who is a worse hitter and similar fielder to Delgado.

    We'll end things on a happy note. Chien-Ming Wang, last seen getting torched for the Yankees early last season, is reportedly on the verge of signing a deal with the Nationals. He probably won't be physically ready to pitch until a month or so into the season, but Wang is going to a team that needs him and a team that plays in a ballpark that should be conducive to a rebound season. Given the state of the Mets, they might not even finish last in the NL East.

    That makes you wonder why they didn't pursue Wang, but we said we wanted to end things on a happy note.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.