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Introducing No. 23, Mike Cameron

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 16, 2009 11:18 AM

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Mike Cameron has taken the stage with Theo Epstein. He will wear No. 23 with the Red Sox. Cameron is back in the American League for the first time since 2003 when he was with the Mariners. He has since played with the Mets, Padres and Brewers.

UPDATE, 12:01 p.m.: No word yet on what position Cameron will play. Terry Francona said he wanted to discuss the situation with everybody involved including Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury. Then Theo Epstein was quick to say that they approached Cameron because of his willingness to play left field.

So make of that what you will. Cameron said his ability to play CF would enable him to play a corner. He has not, however, played a corner since his collision with Carlos Beltran in 2005.

Cameron said it was a "special moment" for him to join the Red Sox.

UPDATE, 12:07 p.m.: On the topic of more acquisitions, Theo Epstein said it was easier to obtain a bat than a pitcher during the season, so that could be an indication that he's willing to wait to make another significant move. 

UPDATE, 12:13 p.m.: Epstein said he did not want to close the door on any free agent. But he talked about Jason Bay in the past tense.

UPDATE, 12:24 p.m.: Cameron goes way back with Francona, who was his hitting coach in Rookie League ball when both were in the White Sox organization in 1991. Francona had retired as a player the previous year. 

According to Cameron, Francona used to tell his players back then that they would be working at a 7-11 if they couldn't grasp the concepts he was teaching.

"He always used to tell us that if you can't figure this out now, a little bit of it now, while you're learning," Cameron said Wednesday, "then you will be one of the prime candidates to be working at 7-11."

Update, 1:15 p.m.: Cameron introduction remarks.


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UPDATE, 1:22 p.m.: Through agent Mike Nicotera, Cameron sent word to the Red Sox several weeks ago that he was more concerned with playing for a championship than playing center field.

That's what sparked Theo Epstein's interest and led to Cameron being signed to a two-year, $15.5 million deal.

"He's been an elite defender his entire career who's been under appreciated from an offensive standpoint because he's always played in big ballparks," Epstein said. "He?s been one of the most consistent players in the game. If you look, he's going to hit you 20-25 homer runs every year."

As the Red Sox did their research, Cameron did his. He called friends in the game who had played in Boston and decided the Red Sox were for him.

"From my past visits here, I kind of understand the passion people have here toward the game. I feel the same way," he said. "As much as  a player, I've been a big fan of the game. When you go to different place you see the excitement and passion people have. I had a chance to go somewhere special and play in the World Series."

The Red Sox believe Cameron will flourish offensively at Fenway Park. He is a right-handed pull hitter with good power who has spent much of his career in spacious ballparks. Going back to 2003, when he signed with the Mets, the Red Sox have had an interest in Cameron.

"I wouldn't characterize him as somebody we prioritized back then," Epstein said. "But he was clearly somebody we had interest in and thought would be a good fit."

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