Johnny Damon calls for players-only meeting in Tampa after horrendous start

Tampa Bay Rays’ Johnny Damon (L-R), Manny Ramirez and Evan Longoria walk to the dugout after taking batting practice before a MLB spring training game with the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida, March 1, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Nesius (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The 2011 MLB season isn’t even two weeks old and already we’ve had our first players-only meeting called.

According to Tampa, Rays’ outfielder Johnny Damon, being the veteran he is, decided to call a brief players-only meeting after the club extended its season-opening losing streak to 0-6.

“We just talked amongst ourselves to make sure we stay together,” Damon said. “This is not what we envisioned where we were going to be at this point. We can either sulk about it or embrace it and say, we have to get better. We have to forget about all this that happened. 0-6, it stinks, we hate to be in this position, but it’s not the end of the world. We know we have to go out and start winning games and we feel like once we do and once we get that and try not to put so much pressure on ourselves we can start to roll. And we keep saying hopefully sooner than later. …

“We’re in this together. There’s not going to be any separation of why aren’t the hitters hitting. No, we’re together in this. We’re 0-6 together. And now it’s time for us to win some games together.”

Damon is a good pro and he’s been around the game a long time. But there’s no magic recipe to keeping guys happy and united as a team: You have to freaking win. Damon is barely hitting the weight of a newborn baby (1-for-19, .053) and his defensive play has been comical at times. I respect what he’s trying to do but the bottom line is that the Rays just need to play better on a whole. They need to pick up that first win, and then get the second, and then the third, etc. Winning cures all.

That said, I think the bigger problem here is that the Rays just aren’t that good. They lost Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour and Dioner Navarro and replaced them with Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Kyle Farnsworth and Felipe Lopez. I’m sorry, but the way they’ve started off the year isn’t surprising. I didn’t expect them to go a combined 0-6 in their first two series, but there are many people who believe that this club will struggle all year and I’m among them.

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