Mike Cameron signed a minor league contract with the Nationals in mid-December. But he won’t ever take the field wearing the curly W.
According to the Nationals’ official Twitter account, Cameron informed the team on Sunday morning that he is officially retiring from baseball.
The 39-year-old outfielder was a .249/.338/.444 career hitter over parts of 17 major league seasons. He collected 1,700 hits, 278 home runs and three Gold Gloves while playing for the White Sox, Reds, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Brewers, Red Sox and Marlins.
Cameron likely would have made the Nats’ Opening Day roster as a part-time center fielder. His absence will mean more playing time for Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina. Or Washington could put Jayson Werth in center to make room for an early arrival of top prospect Bryce Harper.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.