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Monday, February 22, 2010
Quick hits: Mike Cameron

By Gordon Edes

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Six quick hits on Mike Cameron, the new Red Sox center fielder:

1. Call in the archeologists: Cameron remembers Terry Francona when he still had hair.

Cameron was an 18-year-old newly drafted by the White Sox in 1991, when his first manager in rookie ball was Francona.

“There are a lot of [staff members] here I know,’’ Cameron said. “I played against Alex [Ochoa], [Gary] DiSarcina. Tom Goodwin, I went, ‘Wow.’ So automatically that makes me know I’m getting old, but [there’s] the joy and beauty of still having the opportunity to play major league baseball. It kind of dawned on me walking in the outfield. Man, I get a chance to do it all over again.’’

2. All in the upbringing: The Red Sox are Cameron’s seventh big-league team. Why has he seemingly been able to transition so seamlessly from team to team?

“I just try to be who I am,’’ he said. “I was raised to be a man long before I was raised to be a major-league baseball player.’’

3. Ancient history: Yes, Cameron said, he’s heard all the stories, including the one published here in which it was noted that only one team with a regular center fielder 37 or older had won a World Series, the 1945 Tigers with Doc Cramer.

“I’ve got a responsibility to try to maintain the balance mentally and physically to play the game here,’’ he said. “I just think I try to do the best I can to take care of my body. I know Father Time will come and push you in different directions. I’ve been very fortunate to maintain and hold it off a little bit.’’

4. Dock of the Bay: Cameron admits he didn’t think the Red Sox would sign him.

“Theo was adamant about the opportunity to play here, but as a baseball player you understand and know Jason Bay had a really good year and probably would be back, so I didn’t think I’d be coming here. Turns out I got a blessing to be here, and I relish the opportunity.’’

5. Dustined off: Cameron was told that Dustin Pedroia predicted he would hit “a ton of bombs” here.

“Tell him what I said,’’ Pedroia said. “I said he’s been hitting 25 home runs a year for the last 35 years.’’

6. Where it all began: Cameron made his big-league debut on Aug. 27, 1995. He batted second for the White Sox, between Tim Raines and Frank Thomas, and went 0 for 4 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Mike Timlin pitched in that game for the Jays. No one else who played in that game is still in the big leagues.