Cameron embracing new role as backup

Cameron embracing new role as backup

Cameron embracing new role as backup
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You thought Mike Cameron was going to resist the addition of Carl Crawford simply because it was going to diminish his playing time?

Not exactly. In fact, not even close.

When Crawford was trying to make up his mind where to sign this winter, one of the players he confided in was Cameron.

And because the 38-year-old Cameron badly wants to win a World Series before his career ends, he gave Crawford a warm sales pitch to join the Red Sox.

So now that Crawford is on board, Cameron is projected to be a reserve for the first time in his career.

Cameron gave no thought to asking for a trade.

"I just showed up because we've got a good team over here," Cameron said. "Josh Beckett said we're going for 100 [wins], so I decided I'd show up and see if I could be a part of it."

Because of his ability to hit left-handed pitching, Cameron figures to be a good fit for a Boston team that has three left-handed-hitting starting outfielders and a lefty designated hitter.

And after a nightmarish 2010 season, when his lower abdomen ached all year and he wound up having surgery to repair a sports hernia, Cameron thinks that some more rest could be a blessing.

"I don't have to run around 150 games no more," said Cameron. "I played 14 years, 145 or 150 games in center field. So, I mean, as long as any model car runs so long, there's always a welcome stop in for a tuneup. I'm excited about what is in store for me, the challenge of the different role I have to take on."

When general manager Theo Epstein went full-speed ahead and closed the deal on Crawford, he immediately reached out to Cameron.

"He was incredibly professional, and he appreciated the call," Epstein said. "His attitude has been unbelievable all winter. He said this is where he wanted to be. Even today, I saw him for the first time. [When I] asked him how he's doing, he said, 'I'm glad I'm in a great place.' He's got a terrific attitude about it, and he's feeling really good."

A center fielder for most of his career, Cameron will roam around all three spots this season, giving manager Terry Francona a super-sub off the bench.

In fact, Cameron hasn't played a corner since a nasty collision with Carlos Beltran on Aug. 11, 2005, left him with severe facial injuries.

But he's eager to get back out there.

"I got a little experience over there," Cameron said. "The only place I'd have to work at would be left field, that experience, which was a plan at the beginning of last year. I'm cool with it. I don't have a problem with it. I just have to work and change my workout plan here a little bit. I have to go in and try to, not so much learn some nuances, but get reacquainted."

Cameron played for a 116-win team in Seattle in 2001, but he thinks this Boston roster has as much talent as any team he's played on.

"It kind of reminds me of my years in Seattle where everything was loaded -- the pitching staff, the bullpen," Cameron said. "Everything is in place, and now we've got to work to put it together, to try to stay healthy. If those things fall into place, we should be pretty good. Josh Beckett pretty much said it. We've got a chance to win 100 games. That ain't easy to do in this division -- let alone win 100, but to do it in this division is a pretty high goal. We're capable with the talent we have in there."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.