Damon: Wang key piece of puzzle
Yanks outfielder discusses teammates, Torre before ALCS
A veteran of eight postseason series, Johnny Damon got his first taste of what they are like in a Yankees uniform in 2006, as New York went down in four games to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series.
It wasn't the outcome he was expecting, and the 33-year-old outfielder is hoping for better stories to tell after the Yankees complete their run in October 2007. The Yankees worked out at Jacobs Field on Wednesday, familiarizing themselves with the stadium's intricacies before Game 1 of the ALDS kicks off Thursday in Cleveland, with C.C. Sabathia throwing the first pitch to Damon, New York's leadoff batter and left fielder.
Throughout the 2007 postseason, Damon will take part in a Q&A with MLB.com, sharing his thoughts after every Yankees game. On Wednesday, Damon gave a few thoughts toward Alex Rodriguez's influence, Game 1 starter Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees manager Joe Torre and more.
MLB.com: What has it been like having Alex Rodriguez as a teammate this season, and what has he done for you?
Johnny Damon: He's great. He'll do anything for you. If he sees something wrong with your swing, he'll tell you. If he doesn't see you hustling, he'll tell you. He's taking on a bigger role. It's stuff that a lot of people don't realize. They know he's a great player, but this guy has brought along the young guys on this team. He gets no credit for it. He's a great teammate.
MLB.com: Is there something about Chien-Ming Wang's demeanor that makes him ideal to have on the mound for a Game 1?
JD: We counted on him in Game 1 last year [against the Tigers in the ALDS] and he got us a victory. He knows what the job at hand is. He's not here to be a superstar. He's just here to give us a great game. He understands that he's a piece of the puzzle, and I think a lot of us here feel like we're the piece of the puzzle. A lot of guys are not the main focal point, but we all know what we can do to help this team.
MLB.com: Do you have a sense of what this postseason might mean to Joe Torre?
JD: You never know when it's going to be the last one, so you just have to go out and savor it and give it our best. Whatever happens with our team, this was a pretty awesome year for us, just the fact that we came together. We battled for the last four months and we've been in the playoffs, so it shouldn't be anything new to us. We would love to win it for Joe. He's been awesome in getting this team back on track.
MLB.com: Is there something that he's relayed to you guys as a group, perhaps when the team was celebrating in St. Petersburg last week?
JD: Yes. He's very proud of what we've done as a team. He just said, 'Whatever the result is, you've played hard for me as a team.' I know he's appreciated it and we would love to win one with Joe as our manager.
MLB.com: Is there anything special that you feel you might need to adjust to as a left fielder here at Jacobs Field?
JD: A little bit. As I've been saying, it's a little bit of a different park. There is a big wall in left field, so when you get a line drive over your head -- and hopefully Wang doesn't give up any of those -- you have a chance of catching the guy for a single. There is a turf on the warning track, so you have to remember that balls could bounce a little higher. Center field is kind of straight toward right field and there is a weird corner in left field. This is, I think, one of the best stadiums in the league.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.