Damon gets mixed reception, then homers

April, 11, 2011
4/11/11
7:24
PM ET
BOSTON -- The Red Sox wanted Johnny Damon last August, but Damon, then playing for the Tigers, didn’t want them.

On Monday, Damon considered how things might have been different had he come back to Boston in 2010. Had he known how his future in Detroit would unfold, he might have been more inclined to return instead of invoking his no-trade clause to block a deal.

“At the time, I was really hoping that staying in Detroit would have got me another year there,” Damon said Monday night at Fenway Park before his Rays took on the Red Sox. “Unfortunately the last day of the season they told me I wasn’t coming back. If I would have known, maybe I would have been a bit more interested in joining the Sox last year.”

Damon left the Sox as a free agent following the 2005 season and signed with the New York Yankees. Monday marks his first game at Fenway since moving on from New York. He was back with Detroit last year, but a back injury kept him out of the lineup.

As a Yankee, Damon was booed roundly by the Fenway crowd. He wasn’t sure what type of response he’d get from fans Monday, although he acknowledged it was a different feeling coming back to Fenway as a Ray.

“Those four years coming here as a Yankee, there was definitely a little higher stress,” he said. “A lot of people around these parts disliked me because I did play for the Yankees. That’s part of it. These people grew up Red Sox fans here and they never change. When you put the pinstripes on, they don’t forget. They just can’t believe it.”

When Damon came to bat in the top of the first, he received about a 50-50 mix of cheers and boos, but he may have lost some supporters when he cranked a home run over the right-field wall to give Tampa a 1-0 lead.

(Damon ended the night 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.)

Damon took note of some of the changes at Fenway Park since last year, including the new scoreboards.

“This place is magical. This place meant so much to me during my four years here,” he said, before adding: “It was a real pain in the butt during my four years in New York.”

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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