A 'very tough' goodbye

June, 30, 2011
6/30/11
10:04
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- Terry Francona first met Mike Cameron in the Gulf Coast League in 1991, when Cameron was an 18-year-old beginning his pro career as an 18th-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox, and Francona was a 32-year-old rookie hitting coach whose big-league playing career had ended the previous year.

[+] EnlargeMike Cameron
AP Photo/Charles KrupaTerry Francona has known Mike Cameron for 20 years, which made Thursday's decision to cut him a difficult one.
"I've known him since he was probably two weeks out of high school,'' Francona said.

That's what made it so hard, this meeting in the visiting manager's office in Citizens Bank Park Thursday morning, when Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein informed Cameron, now 38, the father of four, and the veteran of 17 major-league seasons, that he had been designated for assignment, meaning his time with the Red Sox was over.

"Very tough,'' Francona said. "Tough for Theo, too. Theo did most of the talking. I appreciate the way he spoke to Cameron. As a player I wish maybe somebody had talked to me like that. It's a hard thing to do, and I thought Theo handled it really well ... I'm really proud of Theo. He talked to him with the respect he deserved.''

J.D. Drew played the same position as Cameron, took part in the same drills, came from the same state, lockered at times next to him.

"Everybody hated to see him walk out of here,'' Drew said. "Most guys got the chance to wish him good luck. Solid guy. Great guy to have around the clubhouse, quality individual, a Georgia boy as well.

"I wish him good luck. He'll spend a little time with his family and see where things lead him. I think he'll come out on top, for sure.''

Jon Lester, the winning pitcher Thursday, called Cameron one of the best teammates he has ever known. Dustin Pedroia talked about how much Cameron did for the team, on and off the field.

But the business of the clubhouse continued. Comings and goings, players cut, traded, demoted, released, designated for assignment ... these men have lived with these things from the day they arrived, some of them as 18-year-olds with stars in their eyes.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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