Johnny Damon shouldn't discount Boston

Updated: August 24, 2010, 9:52 AM ET
By Buster Olney

Johnny Damon's next at-bat for Boston, if it ever happens, would come Friday at Tampa Bay, where members of Red Sox Nation tend to take over The Trop in the way that college kids take over Daytona Beach on spring break. And there would be a smattering of boos aimed at Damon, certainly.

But mostly, he would be cheered. Mostly, he would be embraced. If he went back with the Red Sox to Fenway Park on Sept. 3, he would be cheered, mostly, and embraced. Because no matter how it ended between Damon and the Red Sox after the 2005 season, there is a part of his legacy that guarantees he will be cheered at reunions and celebrations in Boston for years to come: He was an incredibly important part of the team that ended decades of frustration for Red Sox fans in 2004. Before Damon joined the Yankees, he conquered them.

You could understand Damon's initial trepidation about returning to the Red Sox. You could understand why he listed Boston among the teams to which he would not accept a trade long before the Red Sox placed a claim on him. But Damon should not fear five weeks of ugliness in Boston, a lukewarm reception. His old friends in uniform want him in the aftermath of the injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron and Dustin Pedroia.