Damon back in camp
Center fielder eager to get into Spring Training groove
TAMPA, Fla. -- Johnny Damon returned to Legends Field on Monday, saying that his mind was clearer following a two-day leave of absence to attend to unspecified personal matters.
The Yankees center fielder met with manager Joe Torre and general manager Brian Cashman on Friday and requested time to return to his Orlando home.
While Damon did not want to get into details of the personal matters, he said they did not relate to his seven-week-old daughter, Devon Rose, or his ailing father.
"I just had a little personal matter that I had to take care of," Damon said. "Fortunately, it was in February, not June or July or anytime during the season.
"They gave me a couple of days to go about it, but the baby is great, my dad's great, I'm great. I'm feeling a lot better today."
Damon, 33, appeared to be his usual, relaxed self on Monday in the Yankees clubhouse, chatting amiably with reporters while attending to fan mail.
He said that the matter was not an issue that could reappear later in the season.
"I'm the kind of guy who likes to attack things at the forefront," Damon said.
With the personal matter behind him, Damon said he could focus his full attention on Spring Training. Damon said he was looking forward to testing his improving left shoulder -- which bothered him for much of last season -- in cutoff and relay drills on Monday.
He also noted that although he reported to camp slightly overweight -- a broken sesamoid bone in his right foot kept him from working out until January -- he hopes to use Spring Training to get into shape, as he plans to steal a few more bases than last season without sacrificing power.
"I may be a little bit larger, but I am strong as an ox," Damon said.
Last season, his first with the Yankees, Damon batted .285 with 24 home runs, 80 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.
"I'm ready to play baseball," Damon said. "This is where we have to set our goals high, and that's to win the World Series. I feel much better. My mind is clearer. It's all about baseball."
He added that he was grateful to Torre, Cashman and the Yankees organization for allowing him to leave the complex.
"I just didn't want to continue without a clear mind," Damon said. "My mind is clearer. I wish we could be robots and just brush things aside and not worry about them. There's always feelings. We're not robots and there are always things that pop up."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.