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Johnny Damon joins Team Thailand for World Baseball Classic qualifiers

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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Damon visited Thailand in 2007. (AP)

Now batting for Thailand: Johnny Damon?

Yup. The veteran free agent is setting off to play for his mother's home country in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers from Nov. 15-18. Team Thailand's first game is scheduled against the Philippines, which recently said it is "praying" that San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum will show up to pitch for the Filipino squad.

While Lincecum's participation is far-fetched, Damon donning Thailand's uniform makes a lot more sense. He's a position player, not a pitcher and he's nearing retirement. He really doesn't have a 2013 to worry about. Damon has also already worked to spread the game to Thailand, making a goodwill trip and conducting some clinics in 2007 when he was a member of the New York Yankees. Damon's parents met during the Vietnam War when his father was a visiting G.I. from the United States. 

Damon is coming off a 2012 season that saw him hit .222/.281/.329 with just four homers and 19 RBIs over 64 games before being designated for assignment in early August by a terrible Cleveland Indians squad. He just turned 39 on Monday and his diminished skills probably mean this will be a fun and charitable experience for Damon rather than a tryout or showcase.

As for Thailand, it could certainly use the help. Asia was represented by the same four teams in the first two World Baseball Classics — Japan, Korea, China and Chinese Taipei — and it'll take a big difference-maker for someone like Thailand or the Phillipines to break through. Damon will certainly try to be that difference-maker for Thailand while also drumming up interest in the game in that country. Good for him.

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