NEW YORK (AP) – Mike Myers gushed about Johnny Damon, sounding like the center fielder’s campaign manager.

Myers was Damon’s teammate in Boston for nearly 11/2 seasons before agreeing to a $2.4 million, two-year contract with the Yankees, a deal that was finalized Thursday. The lefty reliever wants the speedy leadoff hitter to follow him to New York.

“I’ve talked to him and he does have a strong interest in playing there,” Myers said. “So hopefully contract-wise everything will get worked out, and me and him can be teammates for the next couple of years again.”

Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, has been seeking a seven-year contract for Damon averaging about $12 million. The Yankees thus far have given no indication they would offer more than their recent deal to keep Hideki Matsui, a $52 million, four-year contract.

Myers thought about the prospect of Damon hitting leadoff for the Yankees with Derek Jeter batting second. Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Matsui and Jorge Posada would follow in some order.

“I would put the over/under on Damon scoring 125, and I’d take the over any day of the week,” Myers said. “I think the fans would absolutely love him there, just his hustle and his passion for the game, the way he goes about his business. I think he’d fit in great in the clubhouse, even though I don’t know what the clubhouse is.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, following Myers on a conference call with reporters, remained coy about his interest in Damon.

“I’m glad that Mike has got an opinion and is expressing it because it gives you guys a lot more to run with than I’ve been providing,” Cashman said.

New York also is one of four teams competing for Nomar Garciaparra, who would see time at first base and designated hitter, and also would back up the other infield spots and in the outfield. Cleveland, Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers also are interested.

“Nomar is very pleased to have several attractive options for next season,” said agent Arn Tellem, who has confirmed only the Yankees’ interest. “He is weighing all of them carefully and hopes to make the best decision for him and his family in the very near future.”

While not discussing Garciaparra, Cashman described a role he could fill.

“I am not actively looking for a DH,” he said. “To be honest, I’m trying to be more flexible and looking for people that can give our manager and our team some flexibility.” New York remains interested in re-signing longtime center fielder Bernie Williams, who would have only limited playing time unless other players get hurt.

“I still believe Bernie can provide quality at-bats and championship-caliber play, especially in this role,” Cashman said.

The 36-year-old Myers was 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 65 games last season as Boston’s left-handed specialist. He will get $1.15 million in the first year and $1.25 million in the second under a deal agreed to last week at baseball’s winter meetings.

“God didn’t give me the ability to blow the ball by anybody, so I really have to use Jedi mind tricks in order to try and get guys out,” he said. “The Yankees have gone through a lot of left-handers the last couple years and hopefully I can solidify that role.”

He knows he’s likely to face Boston slugger David Ortiz in key situations.

“You definitely have to work both sides of the plate,” Myers said. “You have to use up and down, you have to keep him guessing.”


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