08/17/2002 5:36 pm ET
MLBeat: Cameron isn't giving up
By Jim Street / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Mike Cameron says his offensive struggles can't get much worse, but he's not going to give up.
"The easy thing would be to just shut it down," Cameron said Saturday, "but I'm not going to do that. It can't get any worse than it is now, but I am going to keep working my butt off until I get it right."
A season that began with dreams of being a .300 hitter for the first time, being an All-Star for a second straight season and hopefully playing in the World Series for the first time, has not gone the way Cameron had it planned. There is still a chance to play in the World Series, but his personal goals have taken a major hit.
The talented center fielder's batting average has fallen to a season-low .218 because of a current 0-for-21 drought and manager Lou Piniella decided after Friday night's 0-for-3, two-strikeout game that Cameron needs a mental break.
So Cameron was on the bench Saturday afternoon when the Mariners played the Yankees at SAFECO Field and probably will be on the bench again for Sunday's series finale.
Cameron said he understands Piniella's decision, and hopes a little break helps.
"I will just lay down and take a nap," he said. "Maybe something positive will come from watching a couple of games."
Cameron isn't sure exactly how many days off he'll get, or how many he needs.
"I am a valuable asset to this team," he said. "If not, I would have been out of the lineup a long time ago. I will keep working until I find what I need to find, and I'll find it eventually. I'm not going to stop looking."
Center of attention: With Cameron on the bench for at least a couple of games, Ichiro Suzuki took over in center field.
The move had been in the planning stages.
"I talked to Ichiro a couple of days ago and asked him if he would feel comfortable in center field and he told me 'Yes,'" Piniella said.
Except for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series last year in Yankee Stadium, when Piniella put Ichiro in left field and started Jay Buhner in right field for sentimental reasons, Suzuki has played right field.
"The biggest difference is he has [more] ground to cover," Piniella said.
John Moses, the Mariners outfield coach, said the key to playing center field is taking the correct angles to catch line drives. "It's a more difficult position to play than right field, but not as difficult as left field," Moses said.
Ichiro actually played center field once at SAFECO Field -- during the 2001 All-Star Game. But a ball wasn't hit in his direction in that game.
Early start: The reason Sunday's series finale is scheduled to start at noon PT (instead of the regular 1:35 p.m. time) is because the Mariners are to play Monday night game in Detroit -- three time zones away. There usually is a day off when teams travel West to East, but not in this case, so the Mariners moved the starting time up so they can likely get to Detroit at a more reasonable hour early Monday morning.
Fantasy Edge: DH Edgar Martinez is working on a five-game hitting streak, going 8-for-19, and has hits in 33 of his last 42 games.
Jim Street covers the Mariners for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of MLB or its clubs.