Cameron gets the green light
After a flat start, he’s rarin’ to go
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.
“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.’’
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.’’
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.
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.