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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Father-son PG event for Camerons

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The father focused his attention on his son settling in at home plate, paying close attention to  the youngster while also answering questions from a pesky reporter.

The father, 17-year Major League Baseball veteran Mike Cameron, had his gaze focused on his son, 14-year-old high school freshman Dazmon Cameron. Father and son were together at the Boston Red Sox Player Development 5-Plex Thursday morning while Dazmon participated in the Perfect Game National Underclass Showcase-Main Event.

At the moment Thursday morning when the reporter peppered Mike with questions, Dazmon was taking batting practice. Suddenly, right in the middle of a response, Mike decided to offer a simple critique.

“You’ve got to swing the bat, man! Gracious!” he yelled. There’s no question Dazmon heard the command, and he finished his BP session with a couple of crisp line drives. It was a good start to another good day at the ballpark.

Dazmon “Daz” Cameron stood out slightly among the more than 400 participants here this week, and not only because he is the son of an active major-leaguer. As a freshman in the class of 2015 at Eagles Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Ga., he is also one of the youngest competitors at the PG National Underclass-Main.

And that, according to father Mike, presents no problem at all.

“It’s good for him. It’s good for all of them to be out here and get a chance to actually see the competition from all over,” Mike said Thursday. “I never knew when I was coming along how good some of the other guys were who I played against when I first got drafted. All we saw was the numbers in Baseball America.

“Here you get a chance to see everything and it’s kind of good to see where these guys are and what kind of talent they match up against,” he continued. “The one thing about baseball is, you can only get better by playing, and these guys play enough to get better.”

Daz simply seemed humbled by the fact he’s here at all.

“It’s been a good experience because I’m still really young,” he said after completing BP. “To see these guys even let me come out here at my age, I’m thankful for that. I’ve got to have some fun but at the same time I’ve got to compete, because these guys are older than me. I’ve just got to play my game.”

Daz Cameron is a 6-foot, 175-pound athletic outfielder, who would seem sure to reach his father’s current playing size of 6-2, 210. Daz plays in the elite East Cobb Baseball organization and this is already the eighth Perfect Game event he has attended, including two showcases and six tournaments.

“You get a chance to come out with some of the top talent and competition, and that will only get you better,” Mike said of his son’s participation here this week. “He hasn’t been playing much baseball here recently because he still plays basketball, so just getting back into the flow of things down here is only going to help him out. Just being around it, you become accustomed to it and you get a little bit better.”

The timing of this PG event – over the holidays and smack-dab in the middle of the major league’s off-season – is also to Mike’s liking.

“He’s just now at the age when he’s starting to take some bigger steps as a player,” Mike said. “To actually see it kind of transform before your eyes is a lot better than me hearing about. They play so much in the fall, too, but this gives me another opportunity to see him play a little bit.”

Growing up in and around major league dugouts and clubhouses has certainly given Dazmon a leg-up on his peers. Perfect Game doesn’t rank high school freshmen but Daz is already considered one of the top national prospects in his class. And he won’t turn 15 years old until Jan. 15.

“He’s getting better. He can’t help but get better because he’s playing against top-level competition at a young age,” Mike said. “He’s got a real good baseball IQ and he understands the game, so now he’s just working on it and kind of honing it so he gets a better understanding of what he’s doing.”

Dazmon credits his father’s abilities for many of his own.

“He’s taught me a lot and just watching him play has helped me a lot. Just learning about the game and being around it my whole life has helped me a lot,” Daz said.

“I try to stay out of the way a little bit and let him learn for himself,” Mike countered. “I just try to make sure that he understands the game – which he already knows because he’s been around it for so long – and at the same time help with the little things that are going to help him. I try to help him with his preparation as far as his body and stuff like that.”

Playing with East Cobb, it’s a certainty Dazmon will be at dozens more Perfect Game events over the next three years. He played in the prestigious PG WWBA World Tournament for the East Cobb Astros in October.

“Whatever my team does and whatever my coach puts me in,” Daz said of his upcoming schedule. “I like Coach Guerry (Baldwin) a lot and he teaches me a lot. He’s one of the best coaches around and I really like it a lot.”

As for Mike Cameron, he recently reached an agreement with the Washington Nationals to begin what he hopes will be his 18th major league season in 2012. He split the 2011 season between the Boston Red Sox and the Florida Marlins and has played for seven MLB teams during his career. Cameron holds the distinction of being one of only three players with 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases in both the American and National leagues.

“I’m going to try and go out there and see if I can do it again,” he said Thursday. “I’m going to get myself ready and try to see if the body will hold up, and if I can do it, then I’ll play and we’ll see what happens. It’s still fun, man. When I first left last year I didn’t think I was going to come back and play again, so I spent my time on trying to help (Dazmon) get ready and prepare for it and get myself ready to do it. Now I get the chance to go and see if I can do it for a little bit and get my body ready to do it.”

Any way it shakes out, it’s all been good.

“I’ve had a great opportunity and I feel very, very fortunate to have been able to play for so long and to be able to maintain it,” Mike said. “Now I’m just looking forward to going out and just enjoying it for a change.”

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