Notes: Damon ponders the future

Notes: Damon ponders the future

ARLINGTON -- The ubiquitous Johnny Damon may be nowhere to be found next year.

Damon, the Red Sox center fielder, has seemingly been everywhere since the World Series. He's an author with his book "Idiot." He's been on the cover of People magazine as one of the 50 sexiest males and Entertainment Weekly, plus countless sports magazines.

He's been on television with David Letterman and Regis and Kelly, plus the MTV show "Cribs." He has a bit part in the movie, "Fever Pitch." He can be seen in Puma commercials.

But at the height of his career, the 31-year-old Damon may be ready to retire, like running back Ricky Williams with the Dolphins last year.

"Not that drastic," Damon said. "I'll just disappear."

So is Damon seriously contemplating retiring after this season?

"That's definitely a possibility," Damon said. "I'm young, but I've accomplished what I wanted in this game. I'd like to accomplish more titles and more great seasons, but the ultimate goal (the World Series title), I've accomplished.

"I've accomplished everything I wanted when I left Kansas City. Three of the last four years since leaving Kansas City, I've been in the playoffs. I'll keep playing hard and keep on shooting to get another one (World Series ring) this year."

Damon is eligible for free agency after this season when his contract with the Red Sox expires.

"I want to stay here, but I may walk and go home," Damon said. "I might shut it down in a couple of years."

Damon said he would re-sign with the Red Sox, but knows the Yankees will likely be calling his agent Scott Boras in November when the free agent season officially opens.

"There's no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they are going to come after me hard," Damon said. "It's definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It's not what I need."

Damon said he's "very happy" to be a Red Sox.

"There are a couple of teams I'd consider signing with," Damon said. "If it doesn't pan out, I'll be more than happy to enjoy my summers."

Boston tops his choice of teams for which he would prefer to play.

"I'd like to finish my career here," Damon said. "I'm not sure they'll let me do it, if they offer me [only] two or three years (on a contract). I want at least four or five."

If that does not occur, Damon may make like Houdini and disappear.

Olerud signed: The Red Sox signed first baseman John Olerud to a Minor League contract on Sunday and he has reported to the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

Olerud, 36, had surgery in November to repair ligaments in his left foot, which he injured in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series last October while with the Yankees. He did not sign with any club during the offseason.

Olerud hit .259 with nine home runs and 48 RBIs last season with the Mariners and Yankees.

He is a career .295 hitter with 248 home runs and 1,193 RBIs in 15-plus seasons in the Majors with the Blue Jays, Mets, Mariners and Yankees. He is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner.

Olerud, who bats and throws left-handed, has hit 20 home runs five times and topped 100 RBIs in four seasons. He won the 1993 batting title with a .363 average and finished second at .353 in 1998. He has played in six postseasons, including the Blue Jays' 1992 and '93 World Series championship clubs.

Mum on starter: Red Sox manager Terry Francona remains tight-lipped on who will be his starting pitcher on Monday at Detroit.

"It's still TBA," Francona said before the game Sunday against the Rangers.

Jeremi Gonzalez, a 30-year-old right-hander with Major League experience with the Cubs and Devil Rays, is a leading candidate. He is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA with Pawtucket, the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate.

Gonzalez has not pitched since Tuesday for Pawtucket, when he limited Rochester to three hits and one run over six innings in a 9-2 victory.

Gonzalez, who signed with the Red Sox as a Minor League free agent in February, was 0-5 with a 6.97 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) last season with the Devil Rays. His career record is 24-32 with a 4.69 ERA in 79 Major League games.

Limited pitches: Left-hander John Halama, who has made 114 Major League starts, but none this year, will make his first start on Tuesday against the Tigers.

Halama will be on a pitch count of around 80, Francona said.

"He has shown the unique ability to get deeper into games than you can rightfully expect," Francona said. "We're not going to try to get a certain amount of pitches, (but) we're going to try to win the game. He is as good at these kind of things as you can get."

Around the horn: Second baseman Mark Bellhorn was held out of the Red Sox lineup for the third straight game with an illness. Reliever Alan Embree is also sick, but was available to pitch. ... The Red Sox have used five different players in the eighth slot in the batting order this season. Bill Mueller has started 15 of the first 24 games hitting eighth.

Coming up: The Red Sox continue their seven-game road trip on Monday night in Detroit with the opener of a four-game set against the Tigers at 7:05 p.m. ET. While Boston's starting pitcher is still undetermined, Detroit will send right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (3-2, 3.82) to the Comerica Park hill. Bonderman has lost all four career starts against the Red Sox and has a 6.98 ERA against Boston.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.