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Bits: Damon, Middlebrooks make debuts

5/3/2012

Veteran Johnny Damon made his debut for the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, going hitless with a walk in four plate appearances. Damon will play left field for the Tribe, and since he didn't play 20 outfield games last season, won't become outfield eligible until he plays 10 games in 2012. Still, with 16 home runs and 19 stolen bases in 2011, Damon has skills, he's going to play and he's readily available in ESPN leagues.

Speaking of debuts, the Boston Red Sox introduced rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, and he singled, doubled and walked in four plate appearances Wednesday. Middlebrooks will likely play regularly with Kevin Youkilis on the DL, but don't be surprised if his big league stay is short, or lasts until Youkilis returns. Enjoy the next 10 games or so, though.

Those that added Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett hardly enjoyed Wednesday, as he allowed 12 runs to the Cardinals in 2&frac23; innings. Burnett fooled us all, bringing a 1.38 ERA into the game. Now it's 8.04. Burnett remains worthy of NL-only attention, and it's actually a wise time to buy low. His skills are intact and he's a strikeout pitcher.

Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings at Petco Park on Wednesday, losing to the Padres. Gallardo, the No. 15 starting pitcher in ESPN average live drafts, has one win and a 5.79 ERA, but there is no indication he's hurt. Leave Gallardo active for next week's home starts against the Reds and Cubs, as things will improve soon.

Baltimore Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta scattered five singles over eight shutout innings at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, striking out nine and lowering his WHIP to 0.99. Of course, in his previous outing Arrieta couldn't get through six innings against the weak-hitting Athletics. Arrieta isn't this much of a strikeout pitcher, and after this performance perhaps his trade value won't be higher.

Houston Astros third baseman Chris Johnson hit his first two home runs of the season and knocked in six Wednesday, and his four hits raised his batting average to .311. Johnson is one of the most impatient hitters in baseball, having drawn 35 walks against 218 strikeouts in 234 games, and while he is a career .273 hitter, he doesn't have great power. Leave him on free agency.

And finally, congrats to Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jered Weaver for throwing his first career no-hitter Wednesday. Weaver is owned in every league, and unlike Chicago White Sox right-hander Philip Humber, who wasn't likely to sustain a high level of success after his perfect game two weeks prior, Weaver is a top-10 pitcher. Acquire him with confidence, especially since his next outing is also against the brutal Minnesota Twins. Look, the Twins are one of probably 10 big league teams that aren't formidable offensively. Fantasy owners should look to spot-start pitchers against the Twins after Weaver's heroics and Jerome Williams tossing a three-hit shutout a day earlier. Among the spot-starter types scheduled to face the Twins in the next week, take a look at Jason Vargas, Hector Noesi and stick with the struggling Ervin Santana.