When the Cubs picked up reliever Shawn Camp as a minor-league free agent at the end of spring training, it barely raised an eyebrow.
By the time the all-star break rolled around, however, manager Dale Sveum was calling Camp and left-handed reliever James Russell the first-half MVPs of the team.
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On Monday, the Cubs rewarded the hardworking Camp with a one-year contract worth $1.35 million with an additional $200,000 possible in incentives.
Camp, who turned 37 Sunday, tied for the major-league lead in appearances this year with 80, all in relief. He had a record of 3-6 with a 3.59 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29. He also had 2 saves.
For most of the season, Camp and Russell served as setup men for closer Carlos Marmol: Russell from the left side and Camp from the right. The two also shared closing duties when Marmol was either on the disabled list or in a middle-innings role while trying to work out problems.
Camp became the ninth Cubs pitcher to reach 80 appearances in a season, and Sveum frequently said Camp had "a rubber arm." For the 2012 season, Camp tied Colorado's Matt Belisle, the Dodgers' Randy Choate and the Yankees' Boone Logan for the major-league lead in appearances.
From the start of the off-season, Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer said they were interested in bringing back Camp, the team's only six-year free agent. Camp's major-league career began in 2004 with the Kansas City Royals. He also has pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.