As Adrian Gonzalez was unveiled to Red Sox Nation late Monday morning at Fenway Park, some might have seen that his fresh Red Sox jersey did not have a number on it.
That's because his number, 23, is already taken by outfielder Mike Cameron. But Cameron is in the process of switching back to his old number, 44, to give his former Padres teammate the number he deserves.
"We are in discussion," Cameron told MLB.com. "I think I'm going to get something nice for Christmas, I can bet you that. He hasn't called me back yet."
Gonzalez ought to get him a nice present — Cameron did not have to be so generous. However, the outfielder is thrilled to have Gonzalez back on his team and doesnât mind switching back to his old number, which he donned for much of his career. In September, left-handed first baseman Lars Anderson was called up and given the number 44, but it is highly unlikely he would keep the number over a veteran of Cameron's status.
All number business aside, Cameron is more excited to see the production Gonzalez will add to the team.
"The guy is a really good ballplayer, a smart, smart hitter," Cameron said. "Really smart. He's got unbelievable pop."
The former Padre had two years of witnessing Gonzalez's bat from 2006 to 2007, and explains that the only adjustment that the lefty will have to overcome is the difference in pitchers from the National League to the American League.
"Adrian is a really good hitter, but when you come to this division, there's a little bit of a learning process, and pretty much he'll be facing all of the best lefties in the game in this division," said Cameron. "It's going to be important that we help him out as much as possible so he can go out and do his thing. He knows how to play the game of baseball."
Gonzalez, known for his ability to go to the opposite field, is going to come to love the Green Monster, which is only about 315 feet from home plate. PETCO Park, the Padres' stadium, features a left field line that travels 334 feet from home plate to the wall. Those 19 feet are crucial in regards to the lofty opposite field slices that Gonzalez will be hitting. That said, Cameron would like to see Gonzalez turn around and pull a few balls into right field, too.
"Let's hope so," Cameron said. "And let's hope he wears the Pesky Pole out. I wouldn't mind that either."
Although his bat is the dominant feature that most are reminded of when thinking of the powerful lefty, Gonzalez also has a prized glove, as he has won two Gold Gloves at first base with the Padres.
Padres manager Bud Black had nothing but comforting words for Red Sox fans about the abilities of his former first baseman.
"You look at the all-around game," Black said. "I've said it many times — great defender, makes plays on defense with his arm. Look at the other side, which is what everybody wants to talk about — the offense.
"He has a great, fluid swing. He has great hand-eye coordination. He's a disciplined hitter. [He has] all-field power [and] hits the ball from line to line. [He is] tough to pitch to, tough to defend. He can manipulate the bat. He's a very good baseball player."