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Red Sox Notebook

Cameron gets the green light

After a flat start, he’s rarin’ to go

David Ortiz puts his power stroke on display in the third inning, a ground-rule double to right filed that brought home the Red Sox’ third run. David Ortiz puts his power stroke on display in the third inning, a ground-rule double to right filed that brought home the Red Sox’ third run. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 10, 2010

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As Mike Cameron walked out of P.F. Chang’s yesterday afternoon, after a Mother’s Day lunch for eight, he noticed that one of the tires on his Escalade was flat. It was 3:25 p.m., and, as Cameron said, “My heart is starting to pound because I know I need to get to the ballpark.’’

But, while he started out the day with a flat tire, he ended it with much better news. Cameron, who has been on the disabled list since April 20 with a lower abdominal strain, will head out on a rehab assignment today. The center fielder will be the Pawtucket designated hitter today, and will try to play the field tomorrow.

“The last few days have kind of generally let me know that I have a little bit more,’’ Cameron said. “So running-wise it’s pretty good. My steps are better. My steps are much better. So tomorrow will be a true test for me. I’ll go and really play the game and try to get some hits — but still be cautious enough to know that, hey, you’re rehabbing.’’

Cameron has progressed faster than Jacoby Ellsbury, who still has no timetable for a rehab stint as he continues to work back from four fractured ribs.

“He’s getting there,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “He’s just not quite ready to go play.’’

So far, Cameron has taken batting practice and tracked balls in the outfield, but needs to play in games to truly test his abdominal muscle. He said he needs to go at full speed, especially in situations in the field where he doesn’t know where the ball is going. In doing that, he said he has to be “brutally honest with myself and brutally honest with the staff.’’

After the game, Francona said the team would evaluate Cameron Wednesday and would have a better idea then how much time the outfielder might need in Pawtucket before returning.

First-rate at second
Dustin Pedroia’s play in the first inning Saturday, a grab of a bad throw by Victor Martinez, was mostly overlooked by the end of a blowout loss. But it was just another in a string of impressive and heads-up defensive plays by the second baseman.

“That’s the type of player he is,’’ Francona said, bringing up a play Derek Jeter made in Game 3 of the 2001 Division Series along the first base line. “I don’t care how much you can talk about that in spring training. That’s Jeter. That’s an extraordinary, just that’s an extraordinary play. Pedey has a lot of those characteristics. He’s a really good player, but when the game’s on the line, you get the best out of him. You do things like that, it will help you win games. It didn’t [Saturday], but it will.’’

The manager isn’t the only one who has noticed. Pedroia’s double-play partner has also been impressed by his play, especially in the field.

“I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was that good,’’ Marco Scutaro said. “When you have the opportunity to watch him play every day, it’s impressive. He’s a real good defender, he anticipates a lot of plays and stuff like that. He has great footwork too. He’s the total package. The only thing is he’s a little small.’’

Visual aid
There were some gusty winds blowing out to right field last night, which prompted Adrian Beltre to don a pair of glasses after striking out in the second.

The third baseman said his eyes get watery and blurry in the wind at times. The nonprescription Oakley glasses helped him combat that. “They worked,’’ said Beltre, who went 2 for 4 with two doubles and played flawless defense. “I had never tried them before.’’

Getting settled
Asked about the changing roles of the veteran players on the Sox, Francona said, “I think any time there’s change, sometimes it can be a little unsettling. Saying that, it’s our responsibility to get it settled and play good baseball.’’

He praised Jason Varitek’s leadership, even as he has ceded playing time to Martinez. The catcher continues to wear the captain’s C. Francona also was asked about the leadership of Pedroia, calling him “special’’ in that category.

Ramirez improved
One day after Ramon Ramirez came out of Saturday’s game with tightness in his right triceps, the reliever felt good enough to throw. He played catch with the other pitchers before last night’s game. Though the Sox were not interested in pitching him in the series finale, Francona called it “really encouraging.’’ Ramirez said it was up to the team whether he would be available tonight. He also said he had not felt the tightness before Saturday . . . Boof Bonser, who pitched Friday night in Pawtucket, will remain on a starter’s five-day rotation, throwing about 60-65 pitches his next time on the mound . . . When Francona was thrown a question with the word “coagulate’’ in it, he quipped, “Coagulate’s a bad word for me. I don’t coagulate very well. It’s why I’m on Coumadin.’’ Coumadin is a blood thinner . . . After Dallas Braden threw his perfect game yesterday, his grandmother said, “Stick it, A-Rod,’’ in regard to the recent flap about Rodriguez running over the mound during a Braden start. Alex Rodriguez responded diplomatically. “I’ve learned in my career that it’s always much better to be recognized for some of the great things you do on the field. Good for him. He threw a perfect game, and even better, he beat the Rays,’’ he said . . . With his home run, Rodriguez tied Frank Robinson for seventh on the all-time list with 586. He had not homered in 61 at-bats . . . Manny Delcarmen passed Bill Monbouquette for the most appearances by a Sox pitcher born in Massachusetts with his 255th career outing last night.

Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

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