Francona and Cameron go way back
BOSTON -- Asked Wednesday afternoon about how the signing of Mike Cameron made him feel, Terry Francona smiled and admitted, "It makes me feel a little old."
It was nearly two decades ago that Francona and Cameron first crossed paths. Francona, then the manager of the White Sox' Gulf Coast League affiliate, remembered watching Cameron's parents drop him off in Sarasota just weeks after being tabbed out of LaGrange (Ga.) High School in the 1991 MLB Draft.
As Cameron relayed, clearly not much has changed about Francona's personality since that moment.
"He was my hitting coach in rookie ball and he always used to tell us, if you can't figure this out by now, you'll be one of the prime candidates to be working at 7-11," recalled Cameron to laughter.
The two were paired again at Double-A Birmingham in 1995, where Francona had the honor of telling Cameron he had been called up to the big leagues.
"When you play your first year of Double-A, you don't know if you have that Major League caliber [talent] or not," said Cameron. "We had lost a game and [Francona] called me in ... I thought I was in trouble. He told me I was going to the big leagues and I almost had a heart attack."
Francona also told Cameron he'd manage him again one day and that came to fruition when the Sox inked the outfielder to a two-year contract this week.
All of which made Francona little wistful.
"I saw his folks drop him off in Sarasota, two weeks out of high school," said Francona. "If I recall right, they gave him a computer and made him promise to work on it every night. I've seen him come full circle. I've thrown to him in the cage more than almost humanly possible. I've seen him go from a raw, very athletic, likable 18-year-old, to a guy who's had a great career. I'm excited to have him here. What he does in the outfield and what he does at the plate, you can see that. It's what he brings besides that."