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Cameron, Brewers complete one-year, $7M deal

MILWAUKEE -- Mike Cameron's smile faded, but the three-time
Gold Glove winner never dodged talking about his upcoming 25-game
suspension.

"The toughest thing about dealing with what I have to go
through now is not being able to play," Cameron said. "Hopefully
I don't miss a beat when I come back."

Cameron and the Milwaukee Brewers completed a $7 million,
one-year contract Monday after reaching an agreement last week
pending a physical for the 35-year-old outfielder.

The deal was first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney on Friday.

Cameron was suspended after testing positive a second time for a
banned stimulant. He blamed the positive test on a tainted
supplement.

"We did every test we could possibly do to figure out what was
going on, but we couldn't come up with the positive, the reason,
why I failed the test for the second time," Cameron said. "I've
been through a lot since the 25-game suspension. The last thing you
want to have your name do is to be smeared with getting suspended,
taking drugs, whatever it may be."

He said the worst parts of the ordeal are the perception that
he's not clean and the toll it's taken on his family.

"There's a way that people kind of justify what kind of person
you are by the situation that you're in," Cameron said. "That was
kind of like the last thing you always want to happen when you've
always had a very clean and good reputation. Like I said, I've got
to pay for it."

General manager Doug Melvin said Cameron will be allowed to play
in all the exhibition games before being assigned to Triple-A
Nashville toward the end of the suspension.

Melvin said it only took about a week and a half to sign Cameron
after starting negotiations and that the Brewers are set to go to
spring training next month.

"I've always liked the way he plays," Melvin said. "I don't
anticipate a lot [else] going on. This was possibly our final big
piece."

Melvin had primarily focused on bolstering the bullpen, signing
relievers Eric Gagne and David Riske and adding Salomon Torres and
Guillermo Mota through trades. Melvin also signed catcher Jason Kendall.

Adding Cameron means the Brewers will have a heavy right-handed
lineup and new defensive alignment with NL Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun moving from third base to left field and center fielder Bill Hall moving back to third base.

"I definitely feel I'll be able to help Ryan Braun a little bit
from my experiences in moving in the outfield," Cameron said.
"The core is solid here, I'm just hoping I can come in and
contribute and do some of the things I do well over the course of a
baseball season."

Milwaukee, which had its postseason hopes dashed in the final
week of the season, had a void in the outfield since longtime
Brewer Geoff Jenkins left for a $13 million, two-year contract with
the Philadelphia Phillies. The Brewers also didn't offer a contract
to Kevin Mench, who became a free agent.

Cameron acknowledged he struggled last season with the Padres,
hitting .242 with 21 home runs and 78 RBIs. Cameron also struck out
160 times.

"I had a really bad up and down year this year as far as trying
to figure myself out and get it together," Cameron said.

His last trip to Milwaukee wasn't a pleasant one, either.
Cameron was injured and sick, needing IVs as San Diego failed to
clinch the NL wild-card spot in its final two games in Milwaukee.
The Padres went on to lose a one-game playoff in Colorado.

All that aside, Brewers manager Ned Yost said Cameron's
experience and attitude would play big roles in his clubhouse.

"I could not find one person coming back from his high school
coach up to players that have played with him that would even say
he's a good guy, a great guy was the worst I could get out of
anybody," Yost said. "Our young guys took a huge step last year,
and to have a guy like Mike come in and join forces with them is
going to be tremendous."

Cameron also already has a fan club in former major league
umpire Bruce Froemming, who retired at the end of last season to
his home in suburban Milwaukee. Froemming called Melvin on Monday
morning to talk about the Brewers' newest acquisition.

"He said, 'Hey Doug, I like that center fielder you got, he's a
great kid, I really like the way he plays the game,'" Melvin said.

Cameron gets a $1.25 million signing bonus and $5 million next
season. Milwaukee has a $10 million option for 2009, with a
$750,000 buyout. The suspension will cost him nearly $800,000 in
salary, assuming postponements don't extend the ban.

Cameron can earn $750,000 annually in performance bonuses and
would get the full amount for 475 plate appearances next year and
575 in 2009. He also receives a limited no-trade clause.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.