Outfielder Mike Cameron informed the Nationals he will retire, forcing them to alter their plans in center field as spring training begins. Cameron, 39, had signed a minor league deal this winter with the Nationals and was expected to fill a leadership role while possibly serving as the right-handed half of a center field platoon.
While the Nationals had been hopeful Cameron would contribute, they were not wholly dependent on him. Last season, Cameron hit just .203 with the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins in only 78 games.
In center field, the Nationals have many options if Bryce Harper does not make the 25-man roster on opening day. They could simply play Rick Ankiel or Roger Bernadina every day. They could also use one of those left-handed hitters against only right-handed starters while against lefties shifting Jayson Werth to center and using a right-handed hitter — most likely Mark DeRosa — in right field.
Cameron's decision should not affect the status of Harper. While putting Harper on the team and letting him play right with Werth in center would simplify the center field situation, the Nationals have been adamant the only factor in determining Harper's starting point will be his preparedness.
Cameron's retirement will allow another non-roster invitee a spot on the team if the Nationals do not trade for or sign a replacement. The most likely candidates are currently Brett Carroll, Chad Tracy, Jason Michaels and Xavier Paul.