Sox Drawer: Johnny (Damon) Quest

Sox Drawer: Johnny (Damon) Quest
February 18, 2010, 6:14 pm
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Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010
12:13pmBy Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.comIf you believe the headlines spreading across the internet on Thursday, youd probably assume that the White Sox were on the verge of signing a certain two-time World Series champ.

Or you might conclude that he was going to diss the Sox, and maybe even his wife (whod reportedly rather spend the summer in Chicago), and head to Motown to play for the Tigers.

And lets not forget about the Atlanta Braves who have reportedly offered Damon a one-year deal, one similar to the White Sox, and had Braves slugger Chipper Jones, like A.J. Pierzynski, do his very best recruiting pitch, trying to persuade Damon to come over to the NL.

Whos right? Whos wrong? Who knows?

But when asked about the reports that the Sox were on the verge of signing Damon, a White Sox front office source said on Thursday, We are currently not interested in adding to the misinformation out there and classified the Damon negotiations as private.

What has become public is Damons round of golf with Pierzynski on Monday at a charity golf tournament in Florida. Hawk Harrelson was also there. Because of wrist problems, Hawk didnt play, but rode along for nine holes. Speaking with the Sox broadcaster by phone on Thursday, Harrelson said he made his own sales pitch to Damon.

I told Johnny that were going to win the division whether hes with Detroit or not. And when I left after nine holes, I looked at him and said, Ill see you at Camelback Ranch (the White Sox spring training facility). He smiled back and said, I hear what youre saying.

But despite he and Pierzynskis recruiting mission, Harrelson said he left the golf course that day believing that Detroit was the favorite to land Damon.

And now?

Since Ive had some time to think about it, I would say that right now its 50-50 or that the Sox might be a little bit ahead.

Considering the Sox tense relationship with Damons agent Scott Boras, its a surprise that the negotiations have gotten this far. But Harrelson looks at it a different way.

It just so happens that this particular player that (Boras) has in Johnny Damon is a guy the White Sox would like to have. They need a left-handed bat regardless of who his agent it. As far as their relationship, I dont think its changed. Harrelson then laughed, I dont think its the best relationship.

What Hawk likes the most about Damon is like A.J., hes a winner. Hes an asset, and brings a lot of positives to the clubhouse, to the airplane, to the playing field and certainly in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. Thats when your real stars shine and Johnny has been a great 7th, 8th, and 9th inning player.

If the Sox are willing to pursue Damon, and use him as a DHback-up outfielder, one could argue that the Sox could just bring back Jermaine Dye and use him in that role.

Harrelson is surprised that Dye is still a free agent, and agrees with what Frank Thomas told CSN last week, that Dye will retire if he does not a receive a fair offer.

If he doesnt get the money he feels he deserves, it wouldnt surprise me to see Jermaine retire at all, Harrelson said. I think thats the kind of person he is. Hes a stand-up guy a lot of integrity. If he feels he cant get the money he thinks he should be getting, then hell hang them up.

The lack of interest in Dye isnt so much a reflection on Jermaine as a player. Hawk says its all about money, or lack thereof.

Things have changed. The culture of the game has changed since the economy took a downturn. Its almost like a virus that goes through, and everybody has caught it. And now it looks like a lot of guys who thought theyd get a lot money to sign for a respectable contract are finding out thats not the case. I think last year was the first time in eight or nine years that clubs have lost money. Theres definitely a different philosophy now in terms of signing older players.

Damon is two months older than Dye. But as Harrelson put it, Its a good thing Johnny can play baseball, because he cant play golf.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.