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Sunday reading: Johnny Damon, Johan Santana, A.J. Burnett and Edwin Jackson

Took yesterday off - I'm at Twins-Mets now- so I have just the Sunday Insider in today's Newsday. I spoke with Johnny Damon about an interesting inquiry he received last winter: The Red Sox wanted to know whether he'd be interested in rejoining them.

Damon said he never seriously considered the question. Unless the Red Sox were prepared to blow other Damon suitors out of the water financially - and from what I learned in my reporting, that was not the case at all - Damon dreaded the idea of being hated by Yankees fans for going to the enemy, after drawing the passionate wrath of Red Sox Nation for signing with the Yankees in the first place.

BTW, it's a longshot, but if the Tigers really fall apart in the next few weeks, they could look to shop Damon. And if Nick Johnson shows no sign of being able to come back...given that Damon has been somewhat of a disappointment, the Tigers wouldn't be in a position to ask for much in return.

The column also features thoughts on Bobby Valentine, Roy Oswalt and Andrew Brackman. And if anyone is interested in playing for a day under the tutelage of Ron Hunt, check this out.

--Johan Santana got knocked around yesterday by his old team, the Twins, and if you're concerned about Santana at this point...I understand. He just hasn't been his dominant self, and his confession Friday that he was still feeling the aftereffects of his left elbow surgery from last year didn't bode well, either.

That said, I still think Santana deserves the benefit of the doubt. It's easy to forget, right now, how good Santana has been for the bulk of the season. And in theory, he should gain strength as he moves further away from the surgery.

But David Lennon argues that Santana's struggles provide further reason for the Mets to go get Cliff Lee, and at this point, I wouldn't rip the Mets even for making Jenrry Mejia the centerpiece of such a deal. There are circumstances that call for certain teams to go for it, and given what the Mets have experienced the last three years, and how good Lee is, and the fact that the Mets would get two draft picks for Lee after he signs with the Yankees this winter...those would qualify as such circumstances.

Oh, and I love the Carl Pavano 'stache. He's a whole new guy!

--Alex Cora couldn't come through.

--Since I didn't have a chance to blog since Friday night, yes, I think the Diamondbacks should have lifted Edwin Jackson, rather than have him throw 149 pitches for a no-hitter. I understand he's a midlevel starting pitcher on a going-nowhere team. Nevertheless, Jackson has value either as a trade chip or as a somewhat reliable starter on an Arizona team that still has a great deal of young talent. I wouldn't have risked his future like that.

In a related story, and in a development that can only be described as not shocking, Jerry Manuel said he's not a fan of pitch counts.

--I saw only highlights of A.J. Burnett, but he obviously pitched terribly, again. Erik Boland mentioned in his story that Burnett's horrible run has coincided with pitching coach Dave Eiland's leave of absence, and given what we know about Burnett - that he is someone who needs help getting through rough stretches, and that he develops special connections with certain people (see Jose Molina) - it's hardly a stretch to theorize there's a correlation there.

What to do about Burnett? Keep working, I guess. They could push back Burnett's start by a day, to next Saturday, throwing Andy Pettitte on five days, to give him some more time. But would one day really accomplish that much? And why not give the 38-year-old Pettitte the extra day of rest, and why throw lefties CC Sabathia and Pettite back-to-back?

I suppose Burnett could sit out a turn altogether, but do they start Chad Gaudin? Or promote someone from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre? The candidates aren't that enticing.

--If there's any doubt over the hold Joe Torre still has over the Yankees' world, check out Erik Boland's Yankees notebook, which is dominated by Torre's thoughts. Interesting how Torre thought that Hal Steinbrenner wouldn't be long for the job as the Yankees' big kahuna, but everyone had doubts when Hal first took over for Steve Swindal in 2007.

Since then, Steinbrenner has grown into the job, and by allowing everyone under him to do his and her jobs with relative low stress levels, Hal Steinbrenner doesn't have to work that hard at it. He comes to New  York pretty much every week for a day or two, attends meetings or functions and returns home to Tampa.

--Great feature by Barbara Barker about Hank's Baby Yanks, the Little League team that Hank Steinbrenner is funding.

--Tough weekend for the Red Sox, who lost Dustin Pedroia to the disabled list on Friday night and saw Clay Buchholz leave yesterday's game. The way the AL East looks now, it seems like the Yankees can look on from above as the Red Sox and Rays duke it out for the AL wild-card spot. Of course, that can change very quickly.

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