It is sort of ironic that Mike Cameron is in Lake Elsinore tonight with the Storm when his former team is playing in PETCO Park.
While Xavier Nady, the man he was traded for, is tearing it up in the early going, Cameron is trying to stay away from any tears – in his oblique.
"I am feeling good," Cameron said prior to the game. "I will get into game action and see where I am at."
The slick fielding centerfielder hadn't swung the bat against another team in nearly a month. It is almost the equivalent of spring training again as he looks to find his rhythm and timing at the plate.
When asked if he wanted to be in the lineup with the Mets in town, Cameron replied, "I want to be well. It is more than a four game series. I need to be ready for the long haul. Also, the fact that I haven't played in a while would not be helpful for the team."
After some prodding, he admitted that he would have loved to be on the field to face his former mates.
While the Padres could use his bat and his glove, injuries to the abdomen aren't taken lightly. They oftentimes are recurring and cost a player significant time throughout the season.
The patient approach Cameron has taken, taking swings off the tee without discomfort, soft tossing, and finally taking batting practice, should pay off and keep him in the Padres lineup through September.
As for his outfield play, Cameron doesn't believe it will suffer. His Gold Glove outfield work was one of the main reasons the Padres traded for him.
On Thursday, his batting practice session was non-descript. But that didn't stop him from flashing the trademark smile as he joked with prospects mingling around to catch a word from the Big Leaguer.
Every player in the bigs has made the trek through the system and Cameron is no different. He can appreciate the work being done at this level.
"Sometimes you get a little spoiled," Cameron said of playing in the majors. "When you come out here, it is a lat of hard work. Things that you achieve out here are the same fundamentals that they teach in the big leagues."
In his first at bat, Cameron took the second pitch he saw and laced it off the monster in left field for an RBI double. Had he hit it a few feet to the left, it would have left the yard at the 342-foot mark.
In his final at bat in the sixth, Cameron walked, moved to second on an error and scored on a Colt Morton single.
Cameron had the Quakes paranoid the entire night. Each time he got on base, Rancho Cucamonga committed an error trying to pick him off the basepaths.
It was strange that they paid him so much attention considering it was his first game back.
"He helped us out tonight," Storm manager Rick Renteria said. "He is a veteran and had he been able to steal a base, I am sure he would have."
He reported no problems from the game on Thursday and it could be a matter of days before he is patrolling centerfield in PETCO.