Damon reaches another milestone with 2,500th hit

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Tom Gage
The Detroit News

Detroit — Johnny Damon’s career has become one milestone after another.

For instance, his one-out single in the third inning Tuesday night — for which he received a standing ovation at Comerica Park — was the 2,500th hit of his career. Earlier this season, he scored his 1,500th run and drove in his 1,000th run.

Even better was his 2,501st hit, a two-run homer in the 11th that gave the Tigers a 7-5 victory.

In fact, Damon’s career has become a fascinating study of numbers in that, with his 2,500th hit, he became just the 10th player to have that many hits, along with more than 1,000 RBI, 1,500 runs and 380 stolen bases. All from a player whose swing isn’t exactly textbook.

“It’s definitely not a swing you want to teach to kids,” Damon, 36, said.

But it gets the job done.

“I don’t mean this critically,” manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s actually flattery. But I doubt anybody would say he has a beautiful swing.

“He’s a funny hitter because he’ll take a swing and look so bad, then with his next swing, he’ll hit the same pitch for a hit. He can miss any pitch and hit any pitch.

“Some guys just have a nice smooth swing. But he’s a hacker and a slasher — and he’s done it real good for a long time. I’m sure he’ll want to make a run at 3,000 hits.”

It’s something that has crossed Damon’s mind.

“I’d like to get there,” he said. “It’ll take a few more years, but I think it’s reachable.”

Damon is good at remembering the previous milestone hits of his career.

“My first hit was a triple down the right-field line (off Tim Belcher),” he said. “My 2,000th hit was a line drive over the shortstop in the SkyDome.”

The memory that eludes him is of his 1,000th hit. But it occurred on Aug. 1, 2001 — a leadoff double in the first off Cleveland’s Charles Nagy in Damon’s only season for Oakland.

“What means more to me are the runs I’ve scored,” he said. “Every time you score a run you know you’ve helped your team.”

Around the horn

As expected, Joel Zumaya was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. He joins Zach Miner and Bobby Seay on that extended list.

… Leyland doesn’t want to overplay the heat card. It was 91 degrees at game time on Tuesday, and as he said, Monday’s conditions “were brutal.”

But “I don’t worry about the heat,” he added, “because all we ever talk about in April and May is how we can’t wait until it’s hot.”

… Eddie Bonine is getting a few days off because of a recent heavy workload. Meanwhile, some praise is coming his way.

“We’re thrilled at the job he’s done,” Leyland said of the right-handed reliever who is 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA in 20 appearances.

Last Updated: July 07. 2010 1:00AM