Johnny Damon on MFB: ‘I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is going to tear it up here’
|08.04.14 at 1:31 pm ET|
Former Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon joined Middays with MFB on Monday from the Red Sox Foundation charity golf tournament at Belmont Country Club to discuss the addition of Yoenis Cespedes, Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s struggles at the plate and Boston’s outlook going forward. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Damon, who played in the spacious O.co Coliseum while with the Athletics in 2001, said that Cespedes should thrive in a smaller ballpark such as Fenway.
“It’s a very hard ballpark to hit in, especially if you have a whole bunch of night games,” Damon said. “It was the first time that I was playing for another team besides the Royals, and just getting used to a different team, a different division. It made it tough. I think Cespedes is going to tear it up here. It looks like a great trade for both teams right now. I think it’s a positive.”
Even though Bradley has been a Gold Glove candidate in center field this season, his stellar play defensively has been negated due to his inability to produce offensively. Damon said that Bradley, whose average has dropped to .218 due to an 0-for-24 hitless streak, will need to make big strides in his approach at the plate in order to hold on to his starting role with the club.
“Well, as you see right now, there’s a whole bunch of players who are hitting .220 and .230. … For the Red Sox, your center fielder probably has to go out and hit .270, Damon said. “He’s very fast, lay down a couple of bunts every now and then, bring the defense in and then you can start slapping the ball by them, and once you start getting that confidence, you can grow a lot by doing that, but also you can prolong your career.”
Damon — also a former Yankee — said that he was not surprised to see former Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury getting heckled and booed throughout the Red Sox‘ weekend series against the Yankees, even though Ellsbury played a key role in two World Series titles.
“We know why he’s getting booed,” Damon said. “It’s because he’s wearing the Yankee uniform. He could be the difference of why the Red Sox are where they are now and why the Yankees are staying in the race, somewhat. He’s a talent.”
While the Red Sox are essentially out of the playoff hunt, Damon said there is still a lot to strive for this season, especially for Boston’s multitude of younger players who are fighting for a spot on the team in 2015.
“A bunch of these young guys have a lot to play for,” Damon said. “They have a job to play for next year. I really think it’s up to [David Ortiz] and the other veterans who are on the team to help bring the young guys up and get them accustomed what baseball is like up in New England. It’s a tough place to play, but as long as you go out, play hard and try to win as many games as you can … and once you learn how to win, you’re going to be pretty good for most of your career.”
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