Dec 8, 2015

Late 2000's Mets Utility Player: Damion Easley (2007-2008)

Jacinto Damion Easley was born in the Bronx, New York on November 11, 1969. The family soon moved to Mt. Vernon, New York just over the Bronx border. When his parents divorced he moved out to California with his father & he then attended Long Beach State University. There he got drafted by the local California Angels way down in the 30th round in 1988.

By 1992 he hit .289 at AAA Edmonton in the Pacific Coast League getting the call up to the Angels team. He was a utility infielder for the Angels from 1992-1996 hitting a best .313 in 73 games in 1993. In 1994 he struggled batting just .214 in 88 games. In 1995 he saw a lot more playing time, a career high 114 games but struggled again, batting just .216. In July of 1996 he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Greg Gohr.

In Detroit he became the Tigers regular second baseman. He also played short stop stop, third base & DH in his time there. He turned his career around, with three 20 plus HR seasons, & three 30 plus doubles seasons. In 1997 he hit 22 HRs with 72 RBIs posted a .362 on base percentage while scoring 97 runs & stole 28 bases.

In 1998 he had his best year making the All Star team & even participated in the HR derby. He had career highs in hits (166) HRs (27) RBIs (100) & doubles (38). He would spend six seasons in Detroit averaging around a .255 batting average. In 2000 he led all AL second baseman in fielding after coming in second the two previous years.

In Detroit he set a Tiger record at second base with 99 consecutive errorless games. He signed a two year deal with the Florida Marlins in 2004, but never matched his numbers he reached in Detroit. Easley hit a best .240 with 9 HRs in 2005 playing in 102 games. He moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006 batting .233.

In 2007 he signed on with the New York Mets as a free agent. He certainly proved to be a pleasant surprise, giving it 100% everyday in a Mets uniform. On the field he was the ultimate all around player, playing every position except catcher in his two seasons in New York. Easley debuted as a Met on April 9th as a pinch hitter gong 0-1. On April 24th he hit a HR in the bottom of the 11th inning tying a game against the Colorado Rockies. The Mets went on to win it 2-1.

Easley seemed to made the best of his chances when he got to start & kept doing all the little things when he got that chance. On May 3rd he hit a three run HR against the Arizona Diamond backs in a 9-4 win at Arizona. On May 13th he had three hits with another HR & four RBIs in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. On August 2nd he became the 24th Met in history to hit an inside the park HR. It came in the top of the 6th inning in a game against the Brewers in Milwaukee of pitcher Cris Capuano.

Later that month he injured his ankle in an ugly incident while sliding into second base in a game at Washington against the Nationals. The painful injury cost him the rest of the season, and it was a big blow to the Mets playoff hopes as well. Overall for 2007 he batted .280 in 76 games, hitting 10 HRs with 6 doubles 26 RBIs, 24 runs scored 24 runs & a .358 on base % in just 193 at bats.

He got more playing time in 2008 batting .266 with 6 HRs 10 doubles 44 RBIs & a .322 on base % in 113 games. On June 3rd he had a three hit day in San Francisco, hitting a 5th inning bases clearing double helping the Mets in a 6-3 win. On June 18th he hit a HR in the top of the 10th inning off Justin Speier to beat the Anaheim Angels 5-4. In the first week of July he drove in seven runs in the midst of a ten game hitting streak. In the month he had 15 RBIs, with two separate three RBI games.

That month he was seeing steady playing time due to all the Mets injuries. On August 12th he was hit by apitch in the top of the 8th inning with the bases loaded. David Wright scored from third base with the games winning run to beat the Washington Nationals.

The next night Easley drove in two more runs & had two more multi RBI games that month. On top of his hard play, Easley was an all around good guy and got the job done quietly. He wasn’t resigned for 2009 & retired at the end of the year.

In seventeen MLB seasons Easley batted .253 with 1386 hits, 163 HRs, 287 doubles, 735 runs scored, posted a .329 on base % & had 684 RBIs in 1706 games played. He is 36th All Time getting hit by pitches with 132 & was in the league’s top ten in that category six times.

During his long playing career he never reached the post season. As an active player Easley had played in the most games since the 1994 wild card playoff era without reaching the post season. On a funny note Easley shows a striking resemblance to Popeye’s cartoon pet dog- Jeep.

Retirement: Easly is currently a coach in the San Diego Padre organization.

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