The oxymoron, High/under best suits Mike Cameron this spring. The results this spring have been high while he has rarely made any headlines. Then again, Cameron has never been a player in the spotlight. The lone exception was the horrific head to head collision with Carlos Beltran while diving for a ball back in 2005. Last year he signed a two year contract to be the starting centerfielder. This signing pushed incumbent centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to Left field. This move stirred up some lively debate last year. It turned out to be a moot point when both Cameron and Ellsbury saw their season lost to injuries. This spring has been totally different. Cameron is no longer in any conversation for a starting position. He lost his spot in the outfield the day the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford. This left Cameron as a man with no island. Instead of complaining, Mike accepted his new role as reserve and silently has had a very productive spring.
In the eight games he has played this spring, Cameron is hitting at a robust .409 clip. Cameron feels that this team gives him the best opportunity to finally win a Championship. He is going to embrace the role of fourth outfielder and look to get as many at bats that Terry Francona will give him. We know J.D. Drew’s injury woes will certainly give him plenty of opportunities to play right field. He will also step in to give Crawford and Ellsbury well deserved rests as the dog days off summer heat up. He will also be a very valuable asset coming off the bench as a pinch hitter late in games. How much opportunity is there pinch hitting? Probably limited, considering the starting eight position players. His best chances will be to pinch hit for Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Marco Scutaro. He is also rumored to DH when there is a lefty on the mound. My personal opinion is that would be a mistake, but that’s just me. Last year they were going to platoon Mike Lowell and David Ortiz as DH, certainly a potent righty/lefty combo. That theory went south when Lowell got hurt and Big Papi started to produce. The last thing we need is Big Papi to have his confidence questioned another year. I don’t feel a platoon of Cameron/Ortiz will benefit the Sox in any way. Now if Big Papi’s is struggling into late May early June, then it would be time to give Cameron a good hard look at filling that role. Until then, if it’s not broken then leave it alone.
I believe Cameron will have a decent year. His one goal is to win a World Championship. He has tasted the post season before but never in a World Series. He knows and understands that it takes all twenty five guys on a team to win a championship. His 38 yrs of age may prevent him from being the Gold Glover he once was, but he can still cover a lot of ground out there. Let’s hope he continues to fly under the radar screen of most teams. Then he can take advantage of the 300-400 at bats he will get this year. If he can be the defensive player we know him to be and bat .280, then this year will be considered a success. Especially if he is wearing a Championship hat at the end.