Johnny Damon Wants to Return to Yankees NEW YORK — Johnny Damon soaked it all in as he shared
a float with first-timers Nick Swisher and Jerry Hairston Jr. for the New York
Yankees’ championship parade through the Canyon of Heroes on Friday.

The whole scene made him a little wistful.

“It’s good he got to do it in his first year here,” Damon
said as the energetic Swisher bounced around beside him after the parade
finished in the shadow of City Hall. “It took me my fourth and possibly final
year. I am so overjoyed because you don’t know how many times you get this
opportunity.”

Damon helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and
played one more season in Boston before bolting for a $52 million, four-year
contract with New York. That deal is up now and the parade is over, leaving the
outfielder’s future as one of the major questions facing the champs heading into
the offseason.

“I think that’s just the reality of our game,” slugger
Alex Rodriguez said. “You hope obviously as many guys come back as possible.”

World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and left-hander Andy
Pettitte
, who won the clinching game in each playoff series, also are eligible
for free agency. The fate of Matsui and Damon could be linked if New York
decides to add another big bat in the offseason, and both have said they want to
come back.

“At this point right now, I’d like to just take a little
break and just let my body rest,” Matsui said through an interpreter, after his
creaky knees limited him to DH duties this year. “I think at some point we’ll
pick up some of the offseason topics that need to be worked out and go from
there.”

The 37-year-old Pettitte is deciding whether to retire or
return for a 16th major league season to try for a sixth World Series ring.

Damon, who turned 36 Thursday, tied a career high with 24
homers this season and hit .281 with nine RBIs in the playoffs. He also had one
of the postseason’s most memorable plays, stealing second and third on one pitch
during New York’s three-run rally in the ninth inning of Game 4 against the
Phillies.

“Obviously, I’m going to have a lot of options,” Damon
said, “and I think what it comes down to is what kind of option the Yankees want
to give me or not give me. Why wouldn’t I want to come back? We have the best
owners in baseball. We have the best team. We have the most revenue and the
biggest payroll, so who wouldn’t want to be part of the Yankee tradition? I
would like to continue mine and I feel like I can come back and do a great job
again.”

Damon left New York’s clinching Game 6 victory Wednesday
night with a strained right calf but he called it “probably a week thing” after
participating in the parade.

His injury wasn’t the only one overshadowed by the World
Series win. After the Yankees wrapped up their 27th title, closer Mariano Rivera
said he tweaked his ribs in the ALCS against the Angels, with his ailing side
bothering him for the rest of the playoffs.

“It don’t matter now,” Rivera said when asked Friday
about how much pain he was in on the mound. “It’s over. Thank God it’s over. It
was manageable.”

Rivera tossed 5 1-3 scoreless innings over four
appearances in the Series, recording two saves. He had five saves in five
opportunities with a 0.56 ERA in the postseason, just adding to his reputation
as a big-game pitcher.

“He did what we needed him to do,” reliever Joba
Chamberlain
said.

A handful of players started cleaning out their lockers
at Yankee Stadium after the parade was finished. The name plates had been
removed and the carpet was clean after it was soaked with champagne during the
celebration after Game 6.

A.J. Burnett gave hugs to Chamberlain and Chien-Ming
Wang
. Eric Hinske took his folding chair with the Yankee Stadium inaugural
season logo.

“It’s definitely a day to celebrate and enjoy,” captain
Derek Jeter said.