Mike Cameron Helped Lure Carl Crawford to Boston, Eager for 100-Win Season


Mike Cameron Helped Lure Carl Crawford to Boston, Eager for 100-Win Season FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year ago at this time, Mike Cameron was the new outfielder in Red Sox camp, prepared to take over in center field. Because of physical issues, it didn't go according to plan.

This year, there's another new big-name outfielder, and despite the fact that Cameron's 2010 campaign was limited (or perhaps even because of it), he is leading the charge in helping Carl Crawford transition into his new role.

In fact, the assistance began before Crawford even signed with the Red Sox, when the pair had some conversations about what it was like to play in Boston.

"[I was] like a college recruiter, just telling him about the positives," Cameron said after arriving at camp early Thursday morning. "Let him figure out what he wanted to do. My experiences and the things that could change for him. It's something that he's going to enjoy

Cameron, 38, plans to keep giving Crawford some guidance, hoping to help the former Tampa Bay Ray make as smooth an adjustment as possible to Boston.

"To allow him to go out and play the way he did in Tampa," said Cameron, who jokingly called himself the assistant general manager for his help in luring Crawford. "He's always been successful in the AL East and he's played a lot in Boston. Just now, people are going to root for him even more. They'll expect great things. That's what he brings.

"That's all going to be a part of trying to get him acquainted as much as possible."

Of course, Cameron has to take care of himself as well. He did plenty of that this offseason, spending as much as three hours a day in physical therapy from just four days after he had surgery to repair an abdominal tear back in August all the way into February, more than five months of grueling work.

He was able to resume some baseball activities around the New Year, with no issues. Just as soon as he passes his physical Friday in Fort Myers ("When I really find out what's going on with my body," he said), Cameron will set his sights on a revamped role with the Red Sox.

The 16-year veteran will serve as a key complement to the all-lefty outfield, particularly as a replacement for J.D. Drew in right field and, at times, Jacoby Ellsbury in center. He may also get some at-bats as a designated hitter on days that tough lefties are on the mound and David Ortiz needs a breather.

"I'm excited about what is in store for me," Cameron said. "The challenge of the different role I have to take on. I've got every tool in the bag to hopefully get prepared for what's in store. Ultimately, to get ready for good baseball in 2011.

"I just hope my old man doesn't kick in for awhile but I feel pretty good."

The last time Cameron played right field, he was taken off the field on a stretcher. It was 2005 and the collision with fellow New York Met Carlos Beltran was one of the most horrifying and violent in baseball history, a head-first encounter in San Diego that ended the season for him and caused multiple facial fractures. He carries metal plates beneath his cheeks as a result.

The memory of that incident will not hurt his preparation for his new role, Cameron said.

"No, not at all," he said when asked if that was a concern. "That was a learning experience for me and that's just part of my history. Not at all."

Even if he had a little bit of trepidation, the lure of a star-studded roster has Cameron itching to help out in any way.

"I just showed up because we've got a pretty good team over here" he joked. "Josh Beckett said we're going for 100 [wins]. I decided to show up and see if I could be a part of that. I like that."

He continued, reflecting on the type of guys surrounding him that can turn expectations into something special.

"It kind of reminds me of my years in Seattle, everything's in place," said Cameron, who was on Mariners teams that won at least 91 games in four straight seasons, including an AL-record 116 in 2001.

"We just have to go out and work together, stay healthy. If those things fall into place, we should be pretty good. There's some people in the AL East that put together some good teams and we're supposed to be sitting on top of that. Obviously, that adds a little bit of pressure, but we have those kinds of players here. Everything's in place."

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