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A career .286 hitter, Damon also brings the Indians leadership and playoff experience. As Antonetti said, Damon is “universally respected” and can serve as a mentor to some of Cleveland’s younger players. But the Indians believe his biggest impact will be between the lines despite approaching 40, when most major leaguers have retired.

Last season, Damon batted .261 with 29 doubles, seven triples, 16 homers, 73 RBIs and 19 steals in 150 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the 16th consecutive season Damon has played at least 140 games, a feat he shares with only Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson and Pete Rose.

Damon has appeared in 59 postseason games for the Rays, Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

The 3,000-hit milestone is right in front of him, but Damon said it was never a personal goal.

He’ll retire one day, but he’s not planning to stop anytime soon.

“I’m playing to win,” he said. “I’m playing for the Tribe fans. I’m playing for the Indians organization. I’m not really playing for myself. Obviously, I always want to go out there and play well and treat the game with respect, but there’s a lot of fans out there that really wanted to see me keep pushing and keep fighting.

“I wasn’t ready to pack it up. So 3,000 could be on the horizon, but if it comes or not, when I leave this game I want to make sure there’s no regrets. As long as I keep doing what I did last year, and hopefully this is a successful year, I’m going to keep going.”