"I'm happy for him that he has found out where he's going to go," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Damon. "I think, for players, that's an anxious time -- trying to figure out where you're going to be.
"I wish Johnny luck. Johnny was good for us here, and we all miss Johnny. This is the hard part of the game, when those relationships change a little bit. I'll root for Johnny, except when he's playing against us."
Damon, 36, was a major contributor to the 2009 championship club, batting .282 with 24 home runs and 82 RBIs in 143 games.
Damon had expressed interest in returning to New York, but after completing a four-year, $52 million contract, he was hoping to score at least a two-year, $22 million deal from the Yankees.
The closest the Bombers would get was two years at $14 million, and when Damon and agent Scott Boras passed, general manager Brian Cashman essentially considered the case closed.
Cashman had no interest in rehashing the offseason jockeying with Boras on Monday, saying only, "The Tigers got a great player. He's going to help them."
The locker Damon had occupied during camp at George M. Steinbrenner Field was reassigned to non-roster catcher Mike Rivera, and when position players report for physicals on Tuesday, Damon -- and the pumping bass of the portable boombox he lugged with him -- will be noticeably absent.
"Once Spring Training starts, it's real," catcher Jorge Posada said. "We're going to miss the guy in the clubhouse and on the field. A professional guy and a guy that was really key for us throughout the years and especially last year."
Not that the Yankees won't get their chances to renew acquaintances. New York visits Detroit on March 10 and March 27 in Grapefruit League action, and the Tigers play three exhibition games in Tampa this spring as well. The two clubs also meet eight times this year during the regular season.
"I think it's good for him," Joba Chamberlain said. "It's an opportunity to play the game again and get back out and do the things that he loves. It's obviously a loss for us, but we understand that we've got guys who can help us.
"We'll meet him down the road. He's your friend, but when you get between the lines, he's not your friend anymore."