CLEVELAND -- Johnny Damon did not have the benefit of Spring Training, but the veteran outfielder has now reached the amount of at-bats players typically receive during the preseason. That is one reason the Indians feel Damon's performance is starting to improve.
Heading into Saturday's game against the Marlins, Damon had reached base in eight of his past 13 plate appearances for Cleveland. The Indians believe that is a clear indication that the outfielder is beginning to get a better feel for things in the batter's box.
"We've seen signs," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Over the last three games, he's got some walks. To us, that was a sign that he's seeing the ball better. He was getting himself out with pitches that were off the plate away and off the plate inside. The last few games, he's gotten better at-bats. We feel that he's almost there."
That could be because the 38-year-old Damon entered Friday with 54 regular-season at-bats under his belt. Combined with his brief stint in extended Spring Training -- prior to joining Cleveland on May 1 -- Damon has piled up roughly 70 at-bats since signing a one-year contract with the Tribe.
A team's regular players tend to receive between 50-70 at-bats in Spring Training.
"He's around the amount of at-bats guys get in Spring Training to get ready," Acta said.
Damon entered Saturday hitting just .167 (9-for-54) through 15 games for the Indians, be he had drawn six walks over his last three games. In Friday's 3-2 loss to Miami, Damon went 0-for-1 with three walks for Cleveland.
"It's been a process for Johnny to get re-acclimated to Major League pitching," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "I think we've seen over the last week or so the quality of his at-bats continue to improve. His command of the strike zone has continued to improve. His swing mechanics are getting better, and he's looking more comfortable in the batter's box.
"So I think we'll begin to see some results more consistent with how Johnny has performed in the past."