FORT MYERS, Fla. -- He arrived around 8:15 a.m. in a black Mercedes, Texas plates and tinted windows, and was dropped off at the front door of the Red Sox training facility. Carl Crawford was in town.
What does he bring to the team?
“Carl?’’ said Mike Cameron, the returning outfielder who also was present and accounted for on the reporting date for position players. “Sheeee, about damn near 200 million dollars.
“You’ve seen him enough. You know what he brings to the table. He adds another element to the ball club. He adds more juice -- I guess I shouldn’t use that word -- he adds a great element to the club because he is able do everything. There’s not one way the guy can’t beat you.’’
It was a morning for introductions and hugs between teammates who had not seen each other in months. David Ortiz, wearing a T-shirt that said “I Still (Heart) White People,” busied himself with dressing his son, D’Angelo, in a full Sox uniform, L’il Papi beating Big Papi to the cages for his first swings.
Darnell McDonald climbed over a couple of chairs to break through the media scrum to say hello to Crawford, with whom he’d trained in Arizona in the past. Crawford, whose locker was adjacent to Cameron’s, was allowed to dress in peace, team publicist Pam Ganley dictating that his first session with the media would take place on Friday.
Infielder Jed Lowrie walked in and greeted his fellow Oregonian, Jacoby Ellsbury. Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias had a special reason to be excited Thursday. His father, Candelario, whom he had thought would be allowed to come here from Cuba in a month, had left early. There was a chance, Iglesias said, that his father would be there to watch him practice that morning.
“T!” Cameron called out in response to a shouted hello from manager Terry Francona. “I’m holding court, man. I don’t know why.’’
Cameron, it turns out, had played an active role in the recruitment of Crawford, even though his arrival meant Cameron would become no better than the fourth outfielder on this team. As far back as October, Cameron said, he had talked to Crawford about coming here.
“We just talked about what it was like playing in Boston from the other side,’’ Cameron said. “He made a choice to come to one of the best teams in baseball to add to what we already had here.
“I was just like a college recruiter,’’ agreeing with a reporter who suggested that analogy. “Tell him about the positives, let him figure out what he wanted to do. My experiences, the things that might change for him. I definitely think it will be something he will enjoy.’’
Cameron said he appreciated that general manager Theo Epstein called him even before Crawford signed to inform him of what was happening. With Cameron turning 38 in January and coming off surgery for an abdominal tear, there was little doubt that the Red Sox would be adding an outfielder.
Cameron, who said he had undergone physical therapy five days a week, three hours a day, from the beginning of September to the beginning of February, said he is comfortable with his diminished role.
“I just showed up here because we have a good team over here,’’ he said. “Josh Beckett says we’re going for 100 games [wins] so I decided to show up and see if I can be a part of it.’’
He also acknowledged the possibility that another team seeking outfield help would inquire about him. At $7.25 million, he is well above the scale for an extra outfielder, and, healthy, could probably still play on a more regular basis.
“I’m sure that’s going to take place,’’ he said. “It’s the last thing on my mind. I know there’s a possibility of that taking place but as of now I know I’m here.’’
He said he feels good physically (“Hopefully, my ‘old man’ doesn’t kick in for awhile”). How much was he able to work out?
“I ain’t had no time to work out,’’ he said. “I’ve been changing diapers and fixing oatmeal.’’