Here's Johnny ....
Ten minutes with Johnny Damon and nearly a dozen writers today yielded several good tidbits:
* Damon said Manny Ramirez is the "exact same" as when they played together in Boston, but - given his $2-million salary this season - with one difference: "He's got to be a little cheaper this year; I think he's going to count on me to take him out to lunch and dinner a little more this year.''
* Damon said that it was going to be hard (like "pulling teeth") to get his No. 18 from Ben Zobrist (who has a long-term deal compared to Damon's one-year contract) so he decided to switch to 22 in honor of some other sports greats: "It was time for a change - Clyde "The Glide" Drexler, Emmitt Smith, Roger Clemens with the Yankees - a few guys I look up to right there. So I'm pretty excited about it.''
* Damon said he at time will serve as the occasional spokesman for Ramirez: "As you can tell I'm not talking only for myself but I'm talking for Manny. So I'm not sure if you guys are going to talk to him today. It could be a tough thing for you to do, but I'm here to answer his questions also. You know how tough it is to get him, but that's why I'm here. That's why he's comfortable and relaxing right now.''
* Damon said he hopes to finish with more hits than Ramirez - Damon has 2,571, Ramirez 2,573: "I'm going to try to catch him on that. I think the home runs are going to be rough (Ramirez has 555, Damon 215). But he's not going to catch me in triples or stolen bases. Us scoring our runs, we're climbing the ladder. Another good year scoring runs (he has 1,564) I may jump into the top 25, top 20.''