Cameron: 'Carpe diem, right?'

March, 31, 2011
3/31/11
4:47
PM ET
HOUSTON -- Imagine that. Under a big leaguer’s hard body beats a sentimental heart.

“Definitely,’’ Mike Cameron said Friday, discussing the moment when Red Sox manager Terry Francona informed him he would be starting in right field when the Sox open the season Friday in Texas against the Texas Rangers. “My adrenaline started kicking in and the butterflies came as soon as he told me.’’

Cameron is 38 years old and his first Opening Day came in 1998. Doesn’t matter. There’s still something special, he said, about seeing your name on the lineup card for the season’s first game. Francona told him before Wednesday night’s exhibition against the Astros that he would be playing right instead of J.D. Drew. Francona said he preferred to have Cameron’s righthanded bat against Texas starter C.J. Wilson.

Surprised?

“A little bit, man, most definitely. Most definitely,’’ said Cameron, who was hurt for most of the season before finally shutting down for surgery to repair an abdominal tear (sports hernia). “But I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

“Opening Day is special because really, it’s the opening of the season, all the festivities going on, all the emotion, the butterflies and everything else that comes into play. And to still be able to do it, the feeling will be like the first one.’’

Cameron’s first Opening Day also took place in Texas, and he delivered a two-run single against another tough Rangers lefty, Kenny Rogers. “I’ll never forget it,’’ he said. “Ray Durham hit first, then me, then Big Frank [Thomas]. Fun times. Fun times.’’

Drew, who said Francona asked for his input before making his decision, said he was not perturbed by not playing in the opener, noting that it was a long season and there were certain lefty-on-lefty matchups that would make Francona understandably apt to play Cameron or Darnell McDonald.

For Cameron, however, Opening Day still ranks as a big event. “I’ve had some really good ones.’’

Indeed. Cameron has homered twice on Opening Day, the second time in 2002 when he was playing for Seattle and homered off Mark Buehrle of the White Sox. Overall, he is 12 for 36 (.333) in openers, and has walked an additional 14 times, including two four-walk games.

“You try to control it,’’ he said of the emotion of the day, “but you just roll with it, let the emotions evolve over the course of the game. I used to try and control it, but what I’m going to do tomorrow is savor the day. Carpe diem, right?’’

There is one occasion in which he has yet to line up on the baseline. “It would be even more special,’’ he said, “to run out to that line just one time for a World Series.’’

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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