Mike Cameron, Professional Recruiter
By Brian Phair
When the Boston Red Sox signed Mike Cameron before last season, they felt he could be a major contributor in center-field and add a veteran presence on the team. His personality and willingness to play through a painful injury in 2010 made him an asset with the club, but after hearing what he did this off-season, his value has elevated even more. When Carl Crawford was trying to decide where his next major league destination was, Cameron turned into a professional recruiter. He lured Crawford to Boston knowing that his addition would certainly spell reduced playing time for him. If that doesn’t scream team player, nothing does. (more after the jump)
During his 16-year career, Cameron has been known as a top-tier team player who can fill a role. When healthy, he has impressive home run power, but his speed and ability in the outfield is what drew the Red Sox to sign him last off-season. Even at age 38, Cameron can use his speed to track balls down in the outfield and make the occasional stellar play, but his most important quality is being a top-notch teammate. He is focused on helping the younger players learn and grow and is also committed to bringing the best players to Boston, even at his own expense. In 2011, as the 4th outfielder, Cameron will bring more to the team than the days he is physically in the lineup, acting as another bench coach and team motivator. He wants the Boston Red Sox to win a championship in 2011, even if that means he sits on the bench 90% of the season.
"I was just like a college recruiter. Just tell him about the positives and let him figure out what he wanted to do. – Mike Cameron on wooing Carl Crawford to Boston"
Even more importantly, Cameron has not lost any confidence by now being a bench/role player and not a starter, because he still knows he is talented and can play daily if needed. “I’m excited about what’s in store for the challenge of the different role I have to take on. I’m for everything, man. I’ve got every tool in the bag.’’ A confident, veteran guy who is willing to fill a role as needed is not common in the MLB. Players are focusing on themselves and their personal stats so often, that Cameron is a breath of fresh air. The MLB is a team sport through and through, and Cameron epitomizes team play, both with his words and his actions. He is a truly rare player in today’s me-centered culture and he deserves to be praised for his attitude.