Major Leagues: Braves 3, Yankees 2
KISSIMMEE, Fla. ó Johnny Damon isn’t ready to give away his leadoff spot just yet.
Not long after laughing off Alex Rodriguez’s latest comments, Damon zipped around the bases on an RBI triple to deep right-center in the New York Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Damon said he took no offense to Rodriguez’s statement Tuesday that he wished Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was the Yankees’ leadoff hitter. Rodriguez and Reyes are teammates on the Dominican Republic’s team in the World Baseball Classic.
“There probably are 25 other teams who would want him to be their leadoff hitter, too,” said Damon, who also walked against Atlanta. “I’m not too concerned about that. He’s going to be good for a very long time. Maybe I’ve got to prove to Alex what I can do this spring.”
Damon, who had struggled this spring before Wednesday, was thrilled to be playing at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, where the Braves train. It’s just 15 minutes from where his family lives most of the year, and close to where he grew up.
Damon has been commuting back and forth from his home to Tampa, where the Yankees train. Many mornings, he takes his kids to school before driving to Tampa.
“It’s great playing here,” he said. “This is one reason why I signed with the Yankees. I can take the kids to school and stay at my home in the spring. I wish we played more games here. I grew up going to Disney.”
Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami had his second scoreless outing of the spring, going three innings without allowing a hit. He walked three, but has yielded just one hit in five exhibition innings.
“He had a great day,” said Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, counting on Kawakami to be a big part of his rebuilt pitching staff.
Yankees starter Ian Kennedy recovered from a rocky start, lasting three innings while allowing two runs and three hits. Both runs and two of the hits came in the first inning.
“It was a little frustrating because I thought things were getting better, and I took a step backward,” Kennedy said.