Cameron's Energy Could Be Contagious

Within 20 minutes of walking into the Mets clubhouse, Mike Cameron had gathered the cell phone numbers of five teammates, hugged Mike Stanton and set up a golf match with Tom Glavine. And he's not a bad center fielder, either.

In a clubhouse largely devoid of passion and personality in recent years, Cameron has seemed like an ambassador from a faraway land where ballplayers actually have fun and smile. "We signed him to play center and hit in the middle of the lineup," general manager Jim Duquette said. "We're finding out that's only part of his package. He's an unbelievable person to be around."

Cameron's credibility among his teammates comes first from his talent. He is considered the best defensive outfielder in the game and is capable of carrying a team with his bat. "He has a dynamic personality, and it's absolutely welcome," said Stanton, who first met Cameron at the 2001 All-Star game. "His positive attitude and his approach to the game can be contagious. What he adds on the field is a given, but he also adds a lot to the clubhouse."

After playing the last four seasons for a playoff contender in Seattle, Cameron wasn't sure how effusive to be once he joined the Mets. He checked into camp two days early to try to make that transition easier.

"It was a new environment for me," he said. "The Mets have come in last place two years in a row now, and maybe they didn't want me coming in smiling and laughing. But I decided to address that right away and just be myself and let guys get to know the real me. "If we're going to change things around here there has to be positive reinforcement in terms of what has to take place. I think that is part of my job."

Glavine helped recruit Cameron, calling him twice last winter when he was a free agent. The two were only nodding acquaintances before that. "After talking to him, it felt like I knew him forever," Glavine said. "Mike is perfect for us. In New York you walk on eggshells half the time anyway, so you need guys like Mike.

"People talk all the time about somebody stepping up and assuming a leadership role. But so much of that is determined by somebody's stature on the team. Mike has that respect in everybody's eyes."

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