Damon is now looking to give back as he prepares to play for Thailand in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He’s also waiting to see whether, at 39, he’ll get another chance with a major league club for the 2013 season.
Damon told Evan Drellich of MLB.com that Thailand can have a strong baseball community, although it may take some time — 10 to 20 years, in Damon’s estimation.
“[Baseball is] really almost non-existent [in Thailand]. Guys play softball more here,” Damon said. “This is actually very good timing that I can come out and talk about it. There are some talented guys who may have been equivalent to, [in] the U.S. … Double-A [players]. There’s still some work to do. There’s not fields for kids to go and play baseball. I think they are working on building a field closer to Bangkok now that’s going to have turf, so that’s a start. … This could be a region that’s successful in baseball.”
While Damon has been training with the Thailand team in preparation for the WBC qualifiers, he has also taken time to run baseball clinics and make goodwill visits.
Damon and team Thailand will open their WBC qualifiers on Wednesday against the Philippines at Xinzuang Stadium in Taiwan. For Damon, the WBC could provide an opportunity to show major league teams that he is worth at least one more year in the majors. He was cut by the Cleveland Indians in August after hitting .222 in 224 plate appearances. Damon had a solid campaign the year before in Tampa Bay, hitting .261 with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs.
The two-time All-Star’s phone hasn’t rung yet, but Damon has been adamant about playing at least one more season in the bigs, and he hasn’t ruled out returning to the Yankees or Red Sox.