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Posted at 02:01 PM ET, 04/12/2012

Report: Indians to sign Johnny Damon to help floundering outfield


Johnny Damon could give the Indians some help at the plate. (Chris O'Meara - AP)
Cleveland’s opening day outfield of Shelley Duncan, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are a combined 9 for 52 at the plate through five games for a .173 average. They have all of two RBIs between them to go with nine strikeouts.

So it should be no surprise that the Indians have struggled to score runs this season. They travel to Kansas City for their first road series of the spring with a 1-4 record and looking for an offensive boost.

Who better to provide that boost than a 38-year-old veteran at the tail end of an 18-year MLB career? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The Indians are set to sign Johnny Damon, according to a report from FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, who the team hopes can immediately step into the lineup and pick up the slack for their lagging outfield.

A career .286 hitter, Damon hit .261 with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs in 150 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He also stole 19 bases. Damon’s 2,723 career hits nearly triples the combined totals of Duncan, Choo and Brantley.

How much he has left in the tank, however, remains to be seen. As a left-handed bat, he also makes the Cleveland lineup very one-sided with Brantley, Choo and DH Travis Hafner all batting from the left side as well. But with Grady Sizemore still on the 60-day DL with a back injury and few options but to sign a free agent, the Indians realize they need to make a move.

According to Rosenthal’s sources, the deal will include a full no-trade clause and an “out” clause that would allow Damon to become a free agent when Sizemore returns.

“Cleveland has always been great to me,” Damon texted CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “And I’m looking forward to reuniting with teammates.”

On his Web site, Johnny Damon wrote “An announcement is coming in regards to my signing.”

Cleveland has scored only 20 runs in its first five games. So why not?

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By  |  02:01 PM ET, 04/12/2012

 
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