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BOSTON -- Sexiness and color returned to the Boston Red Sox clubhouse on Sunday morning.
That's how Mike Cameron described himself earlier this season and there's no doubt his presence is welcome around these parts nowadays, especially with the Sox hanging on for dear life in the AL playoff hunt.
Man, what I would give just to be able to run free with no pain. That's the most important thing, the only thing I wish I would have had this year, being able to run free.” -- Mike Cameron
The veteran center fielder had surgery to repair an abdominal tear Aug. 26, a procedure that took 4 ½ hours. After three hours in post-op, he went home.
"Everything is good," he said. "It's a long, long surgery, man. I hope nobody ever has to have that [expletive]. It's not good. I had to get both sides fixed. They released my groin and I don't have to worry about pulling no groins no more."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona had said Cameron called him from the recovery room.
"They said I did. I was calling everybody," said Cameron. "I just picked up my phone and started calling people. I don't remember calling Tito. I remember calling him, but I don't remember what I was saying to him. It was crazy. He told me I left these long messages just rambling."
When Cameron arrived in the clubhouse early Sunday morning, he quickly said hello to his teammates, then played some Michael Jackson in the clubhouse.
Cam was back.
He won't be ready to play until next spring training, but he said he'll be healthy enough by Thanksgiving to begin his offseason workouts.
Cameron said he first felt discomfort in his abdominal and groin during spring training, but he played through the pain. He made two trips to the disabled list this season and was limited to 48 games, posting a .259 average with four homers and 15 RBIs.
It's safe to say he should have had the season-ending surgery months ago, but with injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and former Red Sox outfielder Jeremy Hermida, Cameron decided the club needed him to play. So that's what he did.
Now that the surgery is behind him, Cameron said, he's not shocked he was able to play even the limited amount of games he did.
"Not at all. No," he said. "To be honest, I just played. I didn't have a care in the world. If both [groins] would have been hurt at the same time, I probably wouldn't have been able to play. The only reason why I stopped playing was because my hip was hurting -- my flexor tendon. I couldn't lift it and they said once that happens, then you're going to be done."
Cameron signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox last winter and he never expected his first season in Boston would be like this.
"Quite an experience," he said. "I don't think anybody ever takes for granted the little things they're able to do. Man, what I would give just to be able to run free with no pain. That's the most important thing, the only thing I wish I would have had this year, being able to run free. I could have dealt with slumps, struggles, boos, and everything else, but to be able to play with no significant pain is probably the most important thing."
In order to prepare himself to play, Cameron would have to arrive at the ballpark hours before his teammates. He would receive treatment, stretch and need extra time to get ready.
"When I was [at the park], it was easy. When I went home, that was the worst part about it."
Cameron said he could not get comfortable at home. He had trouble sleeping and would toss and turn all night.
"The day I finally said I was going to have surgery, my body started to feel so much better because I relieved so much stress," Cameron said. "My stress was, day-to-day, not knowing what I was going to be able to get out of my body. I pushed it to the max sometimes, pushed it overboard sometimes, and never felt like I underachieved in that department. Before I had surgery, I gave it every ounce that I could give that was some type of quality.
"If anything, looking back, what amazed me was to still be able to run out there and play center field and still run around a little bit. To set aside that [pain] threshold and still run around a little bit, and be considered, as everyone says, 'an old center fielder' or 'hurt' I think I did pretty damn good."
Cameron admits he'll have plenty of time to get ready for next season once he's healthy. And once next season rolls around, heads up, because he says he'll be ready to go.
"It'll come," he said. "I'm looking forward to it though. Looking forward to feeling pain-free and let the gates open. I can't wait to go out. I'll probably play spring training as hard as I've ever played in my life."
Indeed, sexiness and color were back in the Red Sox clubhouse on Sunday.
"[He] brightens up the day a little bit," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.