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Published: Wednesday, 8/25/2010

Damon decides to stay with Tigers

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT - Johnny Damon is staying in Detroit.

The 36-year-old outfielder decided to pass up a chance to return to the Boston Red Sox, rejecting their waiver claim and choosing to remain with the Tigers.

"These guys really like me here," Damon said Tuesday, adding he spoke to each of his teammates individually to be sure he was wanted in the Tigers' clubhouse.

Damon was popular in Boston when he helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series and end an 86-year drought. He fell out of favor, however, with many Boston fans when he later became a free agent and joined the rival New York Yankees.

Damon's contract gives him veto power over trades to all but eight teams. Because the Red Sox weren't one of those clubs, he was able to block the move.

Damon said he was leaning toward staying put from the beginning. He texted former Red Sox teammate Jason Varitek and talked to David Ortiz, and both tried to convince him to return to Boston.

"They told me they wanted a spark," Damon said.

The banged-up Red Sox began the day 5 1/2 games behind New York and Tampa Bay in the AL East. Detroit started 10 games behind Minnesota in the AL Central.

Damon is hitting .272 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs in 111 games. This is his first season in Detroit.

"I feel like we're not out of it yet," he said. "At least we can make some kind of run."

Damon said he'd like to play in Detroit next year, too, but "there's no guarantee."

Damon talked to Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski before he made his decision.

"I told him to do what your heart tells you," Leyland said. "Don't worry about the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Jim Leyland, Terry Francona or anybody else."



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