CLEVELAND -- Johnny Damon is 38 years old, he played just 17 games in the field last year and he made an early exit from his first contest with the Indians on Wednesday after cramping up.
However, it shouldn't be too surprising that skipper Manny Acta penciled Damon into the leadoff spot on his lineup card on Friday for the third consecutive game. Damon has played in at least 140 games in 16 consecutive seasons.
"I plan to go out there and play hard and give this team everything they want," said Damon, who joined the club in Chicago on Tuesday. "Hopefully, we won't have too many instances like we had the other night, but that kind of stuff happens. It's going to happen until the end of time in baseball."
Damon is still adjusting to the daily baseball grind. He spent about two weeks at the Indians' Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., before joining the big league club.
"I probably need to get used to the grind of playing the outfield again and get used to the humidity again," he said. "Being in Arizona for the past couple of weeks, there's no humidity or sweating, that could have gotten the best of me."
Unless he channels his inner Cal Ripken Jr., Damon probably won't reach the 140-game plateau. He does, however, consider himself to be in peak shape, though he admitted he needs to adjust to the rigors that come with daily nine-inning affairs.
"I feel great," he said. "But it's the constant pounding of the season, the getting up, taking a break, getting up again, taking a break. That's the biggest thing."
Acta spoke highly of Damon's track record, adding that it will be critical to have him healthy and in the lineup as often as possible.
"We're going to do the best we can," Acta said, "to keep him healthy and see how much he can play in the outfield and help our lineup out."