HOUSTON — The decision by Terry Francona to start Mike Cameron in right field against C.J. Wilson tomorrow instead of J.D. Drew makes sense from a statistical standpoint. But there are men in those uniforms, too, and their reactions are worth noting.
Cameron, who has been an everyday player throughout his career, was thrilled with the opportunity to make would be his final Opening Day start.
“I’m grateful, very grateful,” he said. “Just to still be able to play on Opening Day, it still takes you back when you were a little kid. Some guys don’t sleep well. You get up early in the morning because you’re anxious to get over to the park and get your uniform on. I’m always grateful just to be able to walk into a big league clubhouse and see my name on the back of the jersey. I think that’s special in itself. It’s just as fun for me when I walked in there when I was 22 as it is now when I’m 38.”
Drew, for his part, took no issue with Francona’s decision.
“I talked to Tito and he asked my feelings on it,” he said. “Listen, I’ve played long enough and I understand that Opening Day is a great day, a lot of fun, the festitivities and a chance for everybody to work into a new season. But, ultimately, it’s a very magnified day in the scheme of a long, long season and that’s what I kind of reflected on when I talked to him about it.
“I told him, `In my opinion, I’m one of the pieces that fit as part of this team and you’re the guy who has to put it all on the field, so whatever you want to do, I’m OK.’ He said, `If C.J. weren’t throwing, I wouldn’t normally buy you a day,’ but I said, `Hey, if that’s the case, we
got some good guys. Cam’s going to able to fit right in there. I’ll be ready at some point during the game to chip in and if not, I’ll be ready to go the next day.’
“I just put the ball in his park and let him know that I wasn’t the kind of guy who was going to blow up and look at it as a slight, by no means.”
That’s a very classy reaction by Drew and certainly a good sign of how well Francona knows the personalities of his players.