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

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.


Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.