Mike Cameron has been a pretty steady performer in his career. With the exception of the 2005 season, when he was hurt in a violent collision in August in the outfield in San Diego and missed the remainder of the year, the Red Sox’ center fielder hasn’t missed much playing time.
Until this year.
He played in at least 140 games in 10 of his previous 12 seasons before joining the Red Sox, showing a remarkable ability to bring good fortune to the teams he has joined throughout a somewhat vagabond career. Teams have won an average of 77.4 games the year before Cameron arrives, 76.6 the year after he leaves and 89.2 while the 37-year-old is on their roster.
So what is it like for a guy so accustomed to being in the mix, so used to being a central figure on a winning ballclub, to watch from the sidelines?
"It’s been uncharted territory for me," said Cameron, who’s played in just 30 of Boston’s first 78 games due to lingering abdominal issues. "It’s been a grind, probably the toughest grind I’ve had to go through in my whole career."
Cameron has been healthy enough to play, but more than two games in a row has been difficult at times, and two steps forward has often been followed by one step back.
The key for Cameron surviving this season and being able to flash his familiar smile is patience, a virtue like no other in the game of baseball.
"We still have the parachute on, the safety chute on," he said of withholding the urge to go 100 percent every day. "I look at the positive every day and try to continue to do the things that I’m able to do to help the baseball club."
With 162 games that can feature many twists and turns, bumps and bruises, practicing patience is a vital component to success. Such a philosophy can easily be translated into our everyday lives as well.
"Many people have heard the saying 'no pain, no gain' and assume that the harder you push, the faster you will get better," notes Kathy Shillue, a physical therapist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "This is actually not the case and can cause an injury to get worse."
After an injury, the right intensity of exercise is critical.
"Most people understand that if the exercise is too easy, then it will not be effective in making the muscles stronger," Shillue said. "But what many don’t realize is that exercise that is too heavy can be worse. It will overly stress the muscle and actually slow the repair process down."
In addition to the right intensity of exercise, Shillue says that getting the correct amount of rest is important because it is during the rest period that the muscle actually becomes stronger.