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Red Sox Notebook

In return, Cameron at center of action

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 7, 2010

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BALTIMORE — With his name written on the lineup card for the first time since May 30, Mike Cameron was all smiles yesterday. He was back, his abdominal relapse healed enough for him to try out center field again. But even as he proclaimed that he would add “a little bit of color, sexiness’’ to the streaking Red Sox on his return, there was an undercurrent of the unknown.

It appears Cameron may need surgery to repair the muscle, though it’s not clear whether he might be able to wait for the offseason, whether it would need to happen during the season, or not at all. It is apparent Cameron will need to be monitored to make sure the Sox aren’t asking too much of the battered 37-year-old.

Asked how he will manage Cameron’s playing time, Terry Francona said, “I don’t know how I could [know] . . . He’s not going to play every day. That’s not going to be in his best interests, I know that.

“We just kind of talked about playing for the right reasons. I said, take our equation out of it. He’s worried about us being beat up. I said just take that out of the equation. If you’re ready to play, that’s when it’s right. And he feels good about it. He looks excited.’’

Not only was he excited to be in the lineup, Cameron contributed significantly. He was on base three times and scored the tying run after leading off the ninth with a single. Cameron also made a fantastic catch in center, robbing Luke Scott of extra bases and likely the Orioles of the win in the ninth.

“Great catch,’’ Francona said. “He looked really healthy. And again, I know he’s probably feeling it a little bit. We kept checking with him as the game went on, just to see if we pinch hit for this guy . . . make sure Cam’s OK. But he went and got that guy pretty well.’’

The team will need to be cognizant of Cameron’s situation, that he experienced more discomfort after playing three consecutive days, culminating in a trip to Massachusetts General Hospital, where it was determined there was no new tear. Still, if the issue flares up again, there’s no obvious path for Cameron to take.

“I’ve gotten two strikes already, so that’s hard to say,’’ Cameron said. “That’s a medical question that I don’t have the right answer for. That’s something that will come in discussion. But to say that would be looking at it as a negative impact in my mind, and I can’t. I’m all about the positive, the good vibe. Just try to be positive about my situation.’’

The “true test’’ was playing a game, and then playing back-to-back, determining how often he can be in the lineup. He was noncommittal after yesterday’s game, when asked if he would be in the lineup tonight.

“Every time there’s a storm, it should pass too,’’ he said. “Today is another steppingstone, hopefully going in the good direction of me playing much more consistently, without some of the things I’ve already experienced over this season.’’

As for surgery, Cameron said, “That could be down the road, but I can’t really be concerned with it. I’m happy about the opportunity that I’m getting today. That’s one bridge we’ll cross when we get to it.’’

A weak back
With the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Manny Delcarmen faltered, allowing a walk, fielder’s choice, and RBI double as the hosts pulled ahead. One more walk, and the training staff, pitching coach John Farrell, and Francona gathered on the mound. Delcarmen’s back, which has been an issue for a couple of weeks, was acting up again. “His lower back’s stiff,’’ Francona said. “It’s the same thing he’s dealt with on and off. We’ll see. Looked like it was hard for him to drive the ball down in the zone. We’ll check him out.’’ Delcarmen said his back felt fine after the game, after he had gone through treatment with the massage therapist. But he also said he felt “a little stinger back there’’ on every pitch he threw. “I felt good warming up, confident going in the game,’’ Delcarmen said. “I haven’t been that off this year with the fastball up in the zone like that. Hopefully treatment and the next couple days I should be good.’’ . . . David Ortiz had a frightening moment in the seventh inning, taking a Mark Hendrickson pitch off the back of his left hand. He looked to be in pain, and the trainer and Francona went out to make sure he was all right. Ortiz stayed in the game. “Sore, real sore,’’ Ortiz said after the game. “I’ll be fine. It’s a big-boy thing. The only problem about that is how you wake up the next day.’’ It was particularly notable, given that it was in Baltimore where Ortiz suffered the wrist injury that affected him through much of the 2008 season.

Draft in the air
One downside to being on the road for tonight’s amateur draft is Francona won’t get to pop his head into the Red Sox war room, which he enjoys. But the Sox will get started on their picks with the No. 20 selection. Only the first round and sandwich round will occur tonight, with additional rounds following tomorrow and Wednesday . . . Boof Bonser returned from his rehab assignment yesterday, though the righthander has not yet been added to the active roster. There is no time limit on how long he can be in such limbo, but it’s expected he will be added in the next few days. Bonser threw one inning for Pawtucket Saturday, hitting 95 miles per hour on the radar gun. “[His velocity] played up for the inning, which I think everybody hoped it would,’’ Francona said . . . Jeremy Hermida was doing better yesterday, after his collision with Adrian Beltre Friday, though his ribs and chest were still sore. Beltre was back in the lineup after one day off . . . Knowing Beltre has injured two left fielders this season, Cameron doesn’t seem worried to play the position, which eventually will happen. “I told him that I will never run into him,’’ Cameron said. “The ball either will drop or I’ll punch him or trip him and I’ll pick it back up and throw it back in. They’ve carried me off the field one time. I said that would be the last time they carried me off the field on a stretcher.’’ Cameron was referring to his 2005 collision with Carlos Beltran that left him with multiple injuries, including facial fractures . . . Just as Beltre isn’t appreciative of Victor Martinez’s affections in the dugout, neither is Francona. “Victor’s got a few of those things going,’’ Francona said. “Before a game, he hits me in the chest. If I didn’t think we were going to win, I would tell him what to do, but I always feel like it’s kind of a ritual. But he’s left me black and blue a couple days. [Ticks] me off. I think he actually enjoys it. It’s one of those things where I’m smiling, but I think he’s saying, ‘Yeah, I got you. Keep hitting me fifth.’ ’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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