ST. PETERSBURG -- Though he only played for the Rays for one season, manager Joe Maddon thinks Johnny Damon will get a warm welcome Monday.
Damon and teammate Casey Kotchman return to Tropicana Field with Cleveland to start a four-game tilt that goes through Thursday, and Maddon is looking forward to seeing the current Indians again.
"I'm certain that he would," Maddon said about the chances Damon gets a nice ovation from the crowd. "I didn't get a chance to visit them there. The schedule did not allow me to get out early enough, the weather and everything else. I'm looking forward to having a conversation with them."
In 51 games for Cleveland this season, Damon is batting .223 with four homers and 17 RBIs.
Kotchman, meanwhile, is enjoying another successful season. Though his average is down to .241 after batting .306 last year, Kotchman has nine long balls in 78 games after having 10 through all of 2011. His 36 RBIs are just 12 shy of his mark with Tampa Bay a season ago.
In the offseason, the Rays' front office opted to bring back Carlos Pena to play first base instead of re-signing Kotchman. Though Pena is hitting just .196, his 13 dingers and 37 RBIs best Kotchman.
Maddon said he believes both players are strong defensively, but are too different at the plate to make viable comparisons.
"I'm happy that Casey is enjoying some success up there. I hope that will continue to rise for him, too," Maddon said. "But I'm really pleased with what Carlos has done here, and I really expect him to be huge for us also. They're just two different kind of players."