SEATTLE -- Johnny Damon is closing in on a major milestone -- the kind that could increase his chances of being considered for baseball's Hall of Fame -- but the veteran outfielder is not citing his historic chase as a reason for signing with the Indians.
Damon is currently 277 hits shy of reaching the exclusive 3,000-hit club.
"Obviously, I would like to get it," Damon said on Tuesday. "But it's never been something that I set out for throughout my career. I've never bunted with a five-run lead for that extra hit. If I have a chance to walk, I'm going to. Unfortunately, with me, because I've played everywhere, people want to just assume how I play. But the track record shows that I an go out and I play hard and I play to win.
"That's why I've been able to help some teams win championships and help some teams that really weren't that good become a bit better. Three-thousand would be great, but I'm playing to win. I'm playing for the Tribe fans. I'm playing for the Indians organization. I'm not really playing for myself."
Damon, who has 2,723 hits in his 17-year career, is currently working out at the Tribe's complex in Goodyear, Ariz., and will likely join the big league team in early May. He would likely need to play at least one more season after this in order to potentially become the 29th player in baseball history to achieve 3,000 career hits.
Among those to reach the milestone, there have been 24 players elected to the Hall of Fame. The only members of the 3,000-hit class not currently in the Hall are Pete Rose, Craig Biggio, Rafael Palmeiro and Derek Jeter.
"I'm playing for all the fans out there," Damon said. "So 3,000 could be on the horizon, but if it comes or not, when I leave this game I want to make sure there's no regrets out there. As long as I keep doing what I did last year, and hopefully this is a successful year, I'm going to keep going."