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Damon won't drop it

He has more barbs for Sox

Damon is becoming the media darling of the World Baseball Classic.
Damon is becoming the media darling of the World Baseball Classic. (AP Photo)

PHOENIX -- Johnny Damon never has been shy about telling it like he sees it, and yesterday he continued to respond to questions about the failed negotiations with the Red Sox, emphasizing his unhappiness with how they went.

Damon, who will play left field for Team USA (Ken Griffey and Vernon Wells are the center fielders), is quickly becoming the media darling of the World Baseball Classic, with lines like, ''Air A-Rod is the only way to go," a reference to the private jet Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez hired to transport Derek Jeter and Damon from Tampa to Phoenix.

But he has not let go of his disappointment at the Red Sox' four-year, $40 million offer.

''They had three months to get something together after the season," he said. ''But they didn't. They stuck to their plan."

Damon said he is expecting some boos when the Yankees come to Fenway Park May 1.

''I'm going to hear from some fans, and there are other fans who are very educated who have an idea of how things went down and how the Red Sox flat-out disrespected me," Damon said. ''I'm going to go out and do my thing, so I'm not going to worry too much about that.

''All I can say is, I gave it my all for four years. If it wasn't good enough, I can't concern myself with that."

Damon and Jason Varitek spent some time chatting on the USA bench yesterday at Chase Field.

''Jason and I talked while it was happening," said Damon of the negotiations.

Damon started to say that his teammates were well aware that he felt disrespected, but he pulled back before naming names.

''You can ask a lot of . . . a lot of their players won't really say," he said. ''Media outlets around the world, they fell asleep on it. I'm just going to go out and do my thing. I absolutely loved it there. I got more left in the can than what people thought."

If they boo?

''All I can say is, I gave it my all for four years. If your all isn't good enough, there's nothing you can do. I can't concern myself with that anymore, either. My concern now is to go out and help the team I'm on go out and win it."

As for his new position in the Classic, Damon said, ''Playing left is an adjustment. That's why I go out there and get some pretty good shagging in, because I haven't been out there for five years."

Early action
Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin expects to pitch the fourth inning of today's opening game against Mexico, relieving starter Jake Peavy. ''I've pitched that early before, so it's not a big deal for me," Timlin said. ''I think I'll be in that one-inning role a lot. That's fine. I want to compete and get my innings in and help this team win it all. It's a very talented roster. I just want to do my part." Timlin feels there's more national pride on the team than people are giving it credit for. ''Absolutely. I think our national pride is underrated. I think we're a big country and it takes longer for it to show itself. But on this team and playing the Giants in the exhibition game, I could hear the guys say, 'Go out there and win this for our country.' I think that will grow as the series builds up." . . . Varitek was wearing his usual No. 33, but without the ''C." ''I don't need that here," Varitek said. ''There are a lot of guys who could wear the C here." . . . Brian Schneider will be the starting catcher today. Varitek could get Roger Clemens Friday . . . Former Sox coach John McLaren, who has spent several years as Lou Piniella's bench coach in Tampa, is Buck Martinez's third base coach for Team USA. Former Red Sox outfielder Reggie Smith is the hitting coach. Marcel Lachemann is the pitching coach, while Davey Johnson (bench), Ken Griffey Sr. (first base), and Rick Eckstein (bullpen) round out the staff.

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