Cameron happily talked himself out of a job


Cameron happily talked himself out of a job

By Sean McAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Carl Crawford's signing last December pushed Mike Cameron out of a starting job, but that doesn't mean that Cameron didn't welcome the move.

In fact, he helped make it happen.

Cameron, who arrived at camp early Thursday morning, called Crawford at the behest of general manager Theo Epstein and attempted to sell him on coming to Boston.

"I was being a little bit of an assistant GM," said Cameron. "or a college recruiter. I just told him about the positives and let him figure out what he wanted to do. I talked about my experiences, what it's like playing in Boston."

Of course, since Cameron's sale pitch was successful, Cameron himself is without a full-time position. He's expected to serve as Jacoby Ellsbury's backup in center and get significant at-bats in right field against lefties. He could also DH some, with David Ortiz sitting against some left-handers.

Asked how defined his role is, a smiling Cameron said: "I don't know. I just showed up. I played 14 years of 150 games in center field so. I'm excited about what is in store for me, the challenge of a different role I'm going to have to take on. I've got every tool in the bag to prepare for what's in store. Ultimately, I'm just getting ready for good baseball in 2011.

"It will work itself out. I just want to be part of a really good, healthy baseball team."

Though he played center last season, it's been a while since Cameron has played much in right.

"I've got a little experience over there," he said. "The only place I would have to work at it would be left field. I'm cool with it. I have to get re-aquainted with it."

Given that Cameron is still capable of playing every day, it's possible that there could be clubs who come to the Red Sox to ask about his availability.

"I'm sure that's definitely going to take place," said Cameron. "But that's the last thing on my mind. I know there's a possibility of that taking place. As of now, I'm here."

He's also healthy, having labored through the first half of last season with an abdominal tear and a sports hernia. He finally underwent season-ending surgery in August, impacting his off-season.

"I had to change everything because I did so much physical therapy," he said. "Five days a week, three hours. But I feel I'm a lot stronger in the places I need to be. So I'm looking to have a healthy mind and healthy body."

The therapy began four days after the surgery was performed and lasted until the first week of February. He feels good, but the biggest tests are still to come.

"I guess it's uncharted," he said. "As much as I did at home, we'll find out when we start really going. We always say it's not about being in shape, it's about being in baseball shape. Hopefully, my old man doesn't kick in for a while."

Cameron is bullish on the Red Sox' potential, regardless of what role he plays.

"This kind of reminds me of my years in Seattle, when everything was loaded -- pitching staff, bullpen," said Cameron, who played with the Mariners from 2000-2004 when they never won fewer than 91 games and won 116 in 2001. "Everytyhing's in place. Now we just have to work to put everything together, try to stat healthy. If everything falls into place, we should be pretty good.

"Josh Beckett pretty much said it: We have a chance to win 100 games and that ain't easy to do in this division. To do it in this division, that's a pretty high goal. But we're capable with the talent in here."
Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.