White Sox pull initial offer to Damon
Club maintains interest, but GM wants decision by Sunday
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- According to news first reported by ESPN Chicago on Friday, the White Sox have pulled their one-year offer to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon.
But that maneuver doesn't necessarily mean Damon is out of the South Siders' plans for 2010. General manager Ken Williams basically indicated how he wants to have the situation settled by the time pitchers and catchers report for Sunday's first official workout.
"We're touching the opening of Spring Training and you know how I am about Spring Training distractions," said Williams, in comments made to the Chicago Sun-Times. "That's never a good thing -- never a good productive thing for everyone to be watching the door. From the first day on, I want everyone pulling from the same rope."
Williams went on to say that the White Sox asked for the bottom line contractually from Damon's camp on Friday, but the team "underestimated on what the market is for him because we thought we were competitive with what the rumors were out there."
"With what we got back [Friday afternoon], unless Johnny sees this as a great opportunity for him, enjoys a chance to win in a great city, it's an unrealistic number in which we got back from them," Williams said.
Damon, 36, would be the exception to the desired designated hitter-by-committee plan pushed for by manager Ozzie Guillen. The left-handed hitter fits better in this situation than Jim Thome, as an example, because Damon definitely could be used in the outfield as well as DH.
Then again, the White Sox have been negotiating from a position of perceived strength. While Damon would be a nice addition to the lineup, an attack seemingly in need of another left-handed-hitting run producer, the White Sox believe they have an American League Central championship contender with the roster assembled.
That group includes one of the elite starting staffs in the entire American League and the combination of Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, Omar Vizquel and Jayson Nix in the rotating DH slot. Damon's presence in Chicago, or in Arizona, for that matter, should be decided by the end of the weekend.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.