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Damon won't panic over a rough start

BALTIMORE -- Johnny Damon didn't try to hide behind his long hair and beard. He couldn't hide from an 0 for 5. He couldn't hide from Javy Lopez's drifting fly that fell between him and Gabe Kapler in the seventh inning and led to two Oriole runs.

"Nothing went right," said Damon following Boston's 7-2 loss on Opening Night. "We just weren't good. I wasn't good."

The Sox leadoff hitter couldn't even get out of his own way. In the third inning, his tapper back to the mound was fielded by Baltimore starter Sidney Ponson, who hit Damon with the ball as he ran to first base. First base umpire Ted Barrett ruled Damon out because he ran inside the line and Ponson did not have a clear path to throw to first. Damon wasn't pleased, but manager Terry Francona explained the ruling to him in the dugout.

Damon came up with two on in the sixth, but grounded to shortstop to end the inning. He came to the plate in the eighth with the bases loaded and hit into a fielder's choice that scored the second Red Sox run.

"I had one good swing all game and it was an out," lamented Damon. "We deserved to score quite a few more runs for Pedro [Martinez], but the only thing I can say is it's not like we had the lead and gave it up. We just lost this one because we played really poorly and we know we're going to play better."

Damon knows Red Sox Nation has a tendency to panic, recalling last season's 6-4 opening loss to Tampa Bay. Last night, the Sox got a decent first start by Martinez, who had a rough second inning before settling down to give the Sox a solid six.

"It's not that I lacked any confidence out there," Damon said. "Every time up I felt I was going to get a hit, but it just didn't work out. I just have to do better. I'm the leadoff hitter and I have to get my team going out there, and it just didn't happen. I guess my Opening Day woes continue."

Damon and Kapler felt the hit that fell between them was no one's fault, a drifting ball that fell into no-man's land. Francona said he'd have to watch video of the play to see if the ball was catchable, but he doubted it was.

"I don't know what happened," Kapler said. "It was a ball I could dive for and get a glove on. In hindsight, I wish I'd made a more aggressive play. The ball did funny things with the wind, but that's an excuse."

Damon said he probably could have gotten a better jump on the ball, and felt he could have been in a better position.

Would he consider shaving or cutting his hair after his 0-for-5 outing?

"That remains to be seen," he said. "If I keep having 0-for-5s, I might have to change it up quickly."

The extra fur around his head and face certainly kept him a little warmer than most. The temperature was 43 degrees at the start, and it dropped.

"The first couple of innings weren't too bad, but then it got cold," he said. "It wasn't fun. The whole night wasn't fun. It was just good to get this one out of the way. I still feel great about our chances."

There was no panic from Damon. But when asked if he thought there would be panic in Boston today, he said, "Absolutely."

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