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07/21/08 7:51 PM ET

Damon activated, returns mainly as DH

Leadoff spot his again after first career stint on disabled list

NEW YORK -- Johnny Damon returned to the leadoff spot in the Yankees' lineup on Monday night in the series opener against the Twins.

He was activated Monday after missing 10 games in his first career stint on the disabled list. Damon injured his left shoulder on July 4 when he crashed into the outfield wall in an attempt to chase down a fly ball, and he was placed on the DL on July 6.

Before the injury, Damon was a consistent contributor for the New York offense, hitting .319 with six home runs and 37 RBIs. And while the Yankees have been successful in his absence -- winning eight of 11 games -- manager Joe Girardi said it was important to have Damon's name back in the lineup.

"Johnny Damon has always been the type of guy that, you seem to score a lot of runs when he's hitting," manager Joe Girardi said. "He kind of kick-starts your offense on a daily basis. He's a guy that sees a lot of pitches out in the leadoff spot, a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, guy that scores a lot of runs, knows how to steal bases. Johnny's just a very good leadoff hitter."

Damon will play primarily in the designated hitter spot until he has had enough throwing practice to be comfortable in the outfield. He will continue to rehab his arm, and gradually build it back to full strength.

"We'll try to increase the amount of throwing that he can do every day," Girardi said. "The sooner he can play the outfield, the more versatile he is for us, makes our lineup more versatile."

The Yankees expected to activate Damon sometime this week, though Girardi did not specify a date before the move was made. The Yankees also placed catcher Jorge Posada on the DL on Monday, but Girardi made it clear that it was not to make room for Damon on the roster.

"We just feel that [Damon] is healthy," Girardi said Monday. "And he can help us today."

Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.