Cameron debuts in center field with Brewers after serving 25-game suspension

Updated: April 30, 2008, 12:03 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHICAGO -- Mike Cameron had to wait 25 games to debut with the Milwaukee Brewers. So he was relieved -- and antsy -- to play against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

Mike Cameron

Cameron

Cameron was in center field and batted second after serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive twice for a banned stimulant while with San Diego. He went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, sparking Milwaukee's 10-7 win.

"It was tough mentally, knowing that I was physically and mentally well," Cameron said before the game. "It's not an experience that somebody wants to go through."

The positive test results, which he blamed on tainted legal supplements, didn't stop Milwaukee from signing the three-time Gold Glove winner to a $7 million, one-year contract in January. Cameron applied for an exemption that would allow him to use banned stimulants, saying he still suffered from post-concussion syndrome from an outfield collision that ended his season in 2005, but he bristled and gave a vague answer when asked about that.

"That's personal and it was all wrong in the first place," he said. "You guys got some bad information -- or bad information was distributed -- and I'm going to leave it at that. I'm so tired of talking about it. Every time I see my name there, it's always 'that guy.' ... It's over and done with.

"I'm just excited to get a chance to play baseball so you guys can write something else besides my name."

Although the Brewers don't see him as a panacea, Cameron should help wake up a struggling offense. Milwaukee managed just 24 runs while going 3-4 on its recent homestand, and nine came in a win over St. Louis. Even so, Brewers were 14-11 and third in the National League Central, two games behind the first-place Cubs, entering Tuesday's game.

"It's big, but it's not big," manager Ned Yost said. "We have a nice team. So it's not like we're hanging on having Mike Cameron. But that said ... anybody in their right mind would want him to come back."

Cameron sees himself as just a piece, not a savior.

"You can't really play like that because it takes so many guys," Cameron said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to come in here and add something, add another piece to the puzzle. Guys have been doing well, so it's kind of hard for me to come in and do anything else besides what I'm capable of doing."

The 35-year-old Cameron struggled last year with the Padres, hitting .242 with 21 home runs, 78 RBIs and 160 strikeouts. He also drew 138 walks over the past two years and has a lifetime .341 on-base percentage. His patience could give leadoff man Rickie Weeks more chances to steal, and the attitude he brings to the clubhouse could be even more valuable.

Cameron made a good impression with his new teammates in the spring.

"He continually told me that I was a great athlete, that the transition shouldn't be too difficult if [I] continue to work hard," said Ryan Braun, who converted from third base to left field. "That definitely helped."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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