Boston Red Sox

Damon: 'I'm still the same guy'

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Damon: 'I'm still the same guy'

BOSTON Johnny Damon sat in the visitor's dugout at Fenway Park before Thursday night's game against his former Red Sox club, mohawk intact and sleeveless t-shirt that read, "There's no safety on these guns," with arrows pointing to his arms.

Since his final season season with the Red Sox in 2005, Damon hasn't changed at all. He even pointed that out himself.

"I'm still the nice, big-smiling guy who still enjoys what he's doing," he said before leading off and playing left field for the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.

Like his previous returns to Fenway, Damon expects to hear some boos. He also expects some to remember that he was a major part of the Red Sox first championship in 86 years.

"I think there's fans out there who do cheer for me and who do really enjoy what I've brought to the table here," he said. "But fans are going to boo me. I think Reggie Jackson said it best, 'Fans don't boo nobodies.' And they know that I can go out there and do some damage and help my team win.

"I get booed everywhere, so, I'm used to it. I've been loved and hated everywhere, but I'm still the same guy."

Damon signed with the Indians in April. He's gone 5-for-30 with zero home runs and two RBI in eight games (all in the month of May). That's a .167 average. And he admits he's not swinging the bat well. So right now, 3,000 hits seems like a tall task, even just 272 hits away from the milestone.

"If it happens, it happens," said Damon. "With the way I'm swinging the bat right now, it'll probably take a good 10 years."

Damon doesn't know where that 3,000th hit will take place, if it does happen. But he doesn't seem to be ready to call it quits anytime soon.

"I was sitting at home, staying in shape, hitting every now and then," he said, while acknowledging that he never was approached by the Red Sox. "But yeah, I was ready to answer anybody's call. I knew if I sat at home for a little bit longer, I just may not leave. But I didn't want to have any regrets. And when they called me, I thought about it for a couple of days. And then I jumped on it. I didn't want to sit around a year from now, saying what could have been or should have happened."

Damon said he was never approached by the Red Sox about a contract for this season. And while he reminisced before Thursday's game, he also said that playing for Boston felt like a long time ago.

"It seems like it's been a while," said Damon. "We're on seven years now? Yup, seven, and it seems like a long time ago. I know a lot of players that have come and gone since then.

"It's strange, especially since I left this team and how many more teams I ended up playing for. I never really envisioned this, on my seventh team now. But you've got to do what you've got to do. I wanted to keep on playing, and playing brought me to Cleveland this year. And hopefully we can keep playing well. And hopefully I can get my bat going."

Damon's Indians enter the series with a two-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central. Their 17 wins is five more than what the Red Sox currently have in the win column.

He said he's not surprised with the way the last-place Red Sox have started, because he knows they'll turn it around in a 162-game season.

"They're notoriously a slow-starting team," said Damon. "Everybody knows they're a good team. They just have to find their way. Hopefully it's not during this weekend. But, they have talent there. So, it's just a matter of time."

As for the rest of his time with the Indians, Damon knows that once Grady Sizemore returns from back surgery in June, there will be a battle for playing time in the outfield. He hopes he can improve his .167 batting average before then, so that he won't be on the outside looking in.

"Hopefully I'm doing well enough so I can warrant to still get some playing time and play. But I also know the dynamic that Grady Sizemore does bring. And we'll really have to wait and see. I'm sure if I'm hitting like I am right now, there's really not too many places to go.

"But that being said, when Grady does get in the mix, I think it can be a nice rotation. Right now, I'm playing a lot out there . . . When Grady does get here, it will be interesting to see what happens."

Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with addition of Nunez

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Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with addition of Nunez

BOSTON -- The cherub stays.

There's no way Rafael Devers is headed back to Triple-A before the homestand starts Friday, right, Dave Dombrowski? Not for the newly acquired Eduardo Nunez, who's a fine player but has nowhere near the offensive upside of Devers, the 20-year-old phenom you just rushed to the big leagues.

MORE RED SOX

You probably weren't really considering sending Devers straight back, were you now, Dave? Sometime in the 3 o'clock hour Eastern time on Wednesday morning (after a 13-inning, 6-5 loss to the Mariners), you did tell reporters in Seattle that you would need to sit down with manager John Farrell to figure out the plan at third base from here.

Likely, you're just making sure your ducks are in a row. That Nunez himself has a chance to shake hands with you, and gets to hear straight from you what he'll be doing.

That's fair. But let's be doubly sure we're on the same page.

As long as something else doesn't happen between now and then -- no other trades for third basemen, no injuries -- Devers must at least platoon at third unless he shows he can't handle it. Nunez bats right, Devers left.

But it wouldn't be crazy to let Devers have the bulk of the playing time, either, and use Nunez to spell Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia. Or simply have him come off the bench.

Devers didn't look overmatched in his very first big-league game Tuesday night. On the contrary, he was patient at the plate, drawing the walk that started a sixth-inning rally against Felix Hernandez. (King Felix is quite the draw for a someone making his major-league debut, we should note.) He looked like a happy kid, and sounded like one after the game.

"For me it's just going out there and playing my brand of baseball and having fun out there," Devers told reporters through translator Daveson Perez. "That's what I was trying to do and I think I did that."

Devers finished 0-for-4 with a pair of walks, one strikeout and a run scored. He didn't make any errors and looked smooth and quick, his athleticism shining through some baby fat.

Dombrowski spoke during the last homestand about the lack of league-norm production at third base. Nunez can bring that, if nothing more. He is, at a position that's had no certainty, some form of certainty. A stable piece that can help out around the infield and has valuable versatility.

But Nunez is not what the Sox need most: A bopper.

Devers has pop. The chances he blossoms this year are not in his favor because he is the youngest player in the majors. But it would be a most strange and almost cruel choice to call the kid up for two days and then decide you don't need him because of Nunez, who entered Tuesday with the same OPS as Mitch Moreland (.745).

If you're the glass-is-half-full-type, the first four-game losing streak of the season for the Red Sox was numbed by a third-base situation that's been upgraded twofold. Let's assume the Sox know how to best deploy the two from here -- in the big leagues together, until shown a reason to change course.

Segura's single in 13th rallies Mariners past Red Sox, 6-5

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Segura's single in 13th rallies Mariners past Red Sox, 6-5

SEATTLE -- Guillermo Heredia provided the early punch with a home run, then turned an extra 90 feet into the winning run for the Seattle Mariners some four hours later.

Heredia went from first to third on a wild pitch and then came home when Jean Segura rolled an RBI single up the middle with two outs in the 13th inning to cap a two-run rally and give the Mariners a 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in a game that ended early Wednesday morning.

"In my opinion, the biggest play in the game was him going from first to third on the wild pitch, keeping his up head up there and taking the extra base, which allowed him to score the winning run," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "A lot of crazy plays in that game, but it says a lot about the effort of our ballclub."

Mitch Haniger walked with one out in the 13th off Doug Fister (0-5), pitching his third inning, and was forced at second on Ben Gamel's fielder's choice. Heredia, who had a three-run homer in the second, singled Gamel to third. Gamel scored on a wild pitch to tie it, with Heredia advancing all the way to third. Mike Zunino then walked. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts fielded Segura's roller behind second, but his off-balance throw was way late.

"Obviously, I didn't know right away. I was aggressive on the play," Heredia said through a translator. "Once I looked back at the catcher, he was a little careless on it, I took off for third."

The Red Sox, who stranded two runners in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings, had taken a 5-4 lead in the top half when Sandy Leon singled home Hanley Ramirez with two outs off Tony Zych (5-2).

"Our bullpen did a great job of extending it, we had opportunities throughout, we fight back from 3-0, unfortunately the ending is what it is," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's a tough loss, particularly the way we've scuffled offensively for a period of time now."

Zunino opened the seventh inning with his 15th home run to bring Seattle even at 4-4.

The Red Sox capitalized on a sudden loss of command by starter Felix Hernandez for three runs in the sixth to erase a 3-1 deficit.

Highly touted prospect Rafael Devers, making his debut, walked to open the inning and Andrew Benintendi drew a one-out walk. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Dustin Pedroia followed with a two-run double. Pedroia advanced on Ramirez's flyout and came home on Bradley Jr.'s single.

Heredia's three-run homer off starter Drew Pomeranz staked the Mariners to a 3-0 lead in the second.

Ramirez cut it to 3-1 in the fourth with 17th home run, a two-out shot to left.

"We knew it was going to be a tight game. It got a little longer than we expected, but we'll take it," Servais said.

The 20-year-old Devers, who began the season at Double-A and then was called up Monday after just nine games at Triple-A Pawtucket, flied out to center in his first at-bat, walked, hit into a double play in the seventh, and walked again in the ninth. He struck out in the 11th to end the inning with the go-ahead run at third and flied out to center to end the 13th. He finished 0 for 4 with two walks.

"In the first inning I was very nervous, but thank God I was able to get my feet under me," Devers said through a translator. "For me, it's just going out there and playing my brand of baseball and having fun out there, that's what I was trying to do and I think I did that. I'm not happy that we lost, but I'm happy for my first big-league game.

RED SOX TRADE:

Boston acquired INF-OF Eduardo Nunez from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor league RHPs Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos, GM Dave Dombrowski announced mid-game. Nunez, 30, hit .308 with 20 doubles, four home runs, and 31 RBI in 76 games for the Giants this season.

RED SOX MOVES

Dombrowski also announced several moves following the game. LHP Luis Ysla, currently at Double-A Portland, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. RHP Blaine Boyer is expected to be activated off the 10-day DL (right elbow strain) on Wednesday. ... RHP Ben Taylor is scheduled to be placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly, on the 10-day DL (left hamstring strain) is getting closer to returning. "That was an encouraging bullpen by Joe today, 25 pitches, 80 to 85 percent," manager John Farrell said. "His next bullpen will be on Friday when we get back home, so he's making pretty good progress." Kelly likely will need at one least rehab outing before returning, Farrell said.

Mariners: CF Jarrod Dyson, who sustained a hyperextended toe when crashing into the wall Saturday, missed his third straight game, but was improving.

UP NEXT:

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (12-4, 2.58) closes out the three-game series Wednesday afternoon. Sale has gone at least six innings in all but one of his 20 starts. He has not allowed an earned run in three of his last four starts. Sale leads the AL with 200 strikeouts.

Mariners: RHP Andrew Moore (1-2, 5.70) has not won in four starts since a victory in his debut on June 22. Moore, the Mariners' second-round pick in 2015, has allowed nine home runs in 30 innings.