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December 20, 2005

Damon to Yankees

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff

Johnny Damon’s days in Boston are over.

The free-agent center fielder agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract with the rival Yankees late Tuesday night. The agreement is contingent on Damon passing a physical.

Damon confirmed the deal in a telephone interview on Boston television station CBS-4 on Tuesday night. Some quotes from Damon:

  • "(The Yankees) came after me aggressively. We knew George Steinbrenner's reputation. He wants to have the best players .. (I'm) now part of the Yankees with a great lineup. We're going to be tough to beat.”

  • “No, (the Red Sox did not match the offer), I talked to Tito (Francona) and I told him they had to 'really get going' … (I) had other plans, I'm not sure if they knew I meant it but I'm a Yankee. Hopefully now they'll go off and get one of the center fielders they've been courting for the last month or so.”

  • "Our policy with the Yankees is to go out there and win… Good leadoff men are tough to find and I think the Yankees found the best leadoff hitter in the game.”

  • "(Red Sox) fans are going to be upset. I hope they remember the great World Series and the three out of four years we made the playoffs. I appreciate them… I tried to come back.”

    Damon fills a double void for the Yankees, giving them a speedy center fielder who can cover ground and a leadoff hitter to top a lineup that includes Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, AL MVP Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi.

    Bernie Williams' defense declined significantly over the past four seasons. And while Damon's arm is not much better, he does cover a lot of ground, which is important in Yankee Stadium.

    Agent Scott Boras had been seeking a seven-year contract for Damon. The offer Damon accepted was essentially the same as the deal Matsui agreed to with the Yankees last month.

    "We were notified at 11:55 tonight that Damon had accepted an offer from the Yankees," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

    Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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