12/22/09 1:44 AM EST
Damon takes to the ring to host 'Raw'
Outfielder participates in skits, approves featured matches
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
But Damon had other issues at hand on Monday night.
While serving as guest host of World Wrestling Entertainment's "Monday Night Raw," Damon had the arduous task of approving featured matches, and in the middle of all that, found himself dodging the mistletoe.
"Raw," featured on USA Network, took place at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, the same city that's home to the Yankees' Spring Training headquarters and close to Damon's offseason home of Windermere, Fla.
Damon became the first baseball player to host the event.
"You know, I know what it's like to be a player on a franchise," Damon said to the crowd from the middle of the ring at the start of the show, "but tonight I'm in charge of the WWE franchise."
This wasn't Damon's first venture into pro wrestling. In 2008 he took part in a storyline with White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski on Total Nonstop Action (TNA), and he eventually snuck up behind baseball trainer and former pro wrestler Dale Torborg to nail him with a steel chair.
During this year's Christmas-themed show, Damon mainly took part in skits backstage. He didn't fight -- unlike, for example, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who was thrown through a table by current WWE champion Sheamus on Dec. 7.
Of course, Damon is a free agent, and he needs to make sure his body stays healthy.
His lips, however, were another story.
Damon mistakenly found himself under the mistletoe with Santa Claus-dressed WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter, but the 36-year-old outfielder got away unscathed -- "Don't ask, don't tell," Slaughter told Damon as he eased out of sight.
Later, though, the two-time All-Star's luck reversed.
While standing under the mistletoe once again, Damon was blindsided by Mae Young, an 86-year-old ex-wrestler who tackled him to the ground and let him have it with a liplock that ended up being one of the highlights of the night.
Shortly thereafter, Damon was approached by WWE CEO Vince McMahon, and the two-time World Series champ proposed the premier fight of the year: a championship bout between John Cena and Sheamus during the last "Monday Night Raw" of 2009, on Monday in Hartford, Conn.
"I'm not sure where I'll be next year," Damon said during a skit, "but Johnny Damon will be fine."
His baseball future remains uncertain, but on this night, it was all fun.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.