The Boston Red Sox designated veteran outfielder Mike Cameron for assignment Thursday morning, freeing themselves from an expensive deal that never quite got on track and likely raising the antenna of Nationals fans everywhere.
The Nationals are a little banged up right now and manager Davey Johnson didn’t exactly hide the fact that he felt the team was thin in outfield depth. Laynce Nix is nursing a sore right Achilles, Jayson Werth dealt with his left hip locking up on him Tuesday night in the field, Rick Ankiel is still currently on a rehab assignment as he comes back from a left intercostal strain.
Wednesday the Nationals had Brian Bixler, a natural infielder, in right field and Jerry Hairston Jr., also a natural infielder, in left.
“Don’t get me started,” Johnson said when asked how nice it was to have that kind of versatility. “That’s a whole new conversation and I don’t want to go there. I mean, Bixler, Hairston, I’ve got two guys who pretty much can do about anything and it’s nice to have when we’re going through what we’re going through today, but we’re really short in the outfield and basically we have infielders.
“I’d be more comfortable if one of them was an outfielder, but that’s a whole other story, I think.”
Those options took yet another hit, though, when Hairston was hit with a pitch in his right wrist on Wednesday and X-rays showed a small break. He had hoped, initially, to be able to play through the break but after seeing doctors in D.C. today, that is no longer a possibility. Hairston is expected to miss 2-4 weeks though he seemed optimistic that he’d be ready to go in exactly two weeks, which would put him on target to return in the Nationals first game after the All-Star break.
So Mike Cameron would certainly fill a need for the Nationals at this time. He’s a great clubhouse guy, one of the best, actually, and the Nationals would need to pay him only the major league minimum in order to get him on their roster if he clears waivers.
He makes sense in a lot of ways.
“I need to sort some things out,” Cameron told the Boston Globe. “But if all goes as planned, I’ll be back playing. I haven’t played much this year. Rest assured, I’ll be back. People think Father Time has got me. But it wasn’t Father Time. It wasn’t getting much of a chance to go out there and run around and play. It was a new experience (in Boston), but it’s all good.”
But there are ways he doesn’t fit, too.
Cameron was released for a reason. He was hitting .149 this season in 105 plate appearances and an even worse .143 against lefties.
The last thing the Nationals need is another outfielder who struggles against left-handed pitching. They also have Ankiel seemingly poised to come off the disabled list in short order. Ankiel played with Triple-A Syracuse Wednesday night and there haven’t been any reported setbacks in his rehab.
Aside from Cameron’s presence – and the idea that getting out of the American League East and giving him more playing time than he was getting in Boston would revitalize him a little – it’d be something of an even race between he and Ankiel, who’s hitting a slightly better .204.
The Nationals, like every team, consider every player who hits the market and they’ll do the same with Cameron, where it goes from there, though, we’ll see shortly.