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Cameron gets rid of one zero, targets another

05.30.10 at 6:23 pm ET
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Mike Cameron delivered his first runs batted in of the 2010 season on Sunday.

It had been a rough way to start his career in Boston. Mike Cameron had injured himself almost as soon as spring training began, suffered through kidney stones (and their removal), endured a lower abdominal tear and, on top of that, had done little at the plate and was told after completing his rehab assignment that he was losing his job as the everyday center fielder of the Red Sox.

And so, on Sunday, it seemed as if Cameron was able to take satisfaction in his performance for just about the first time of the season. Cameron was able to play in three straight games against the Royals, the final one a day game after a night game that gave an indication that his body is starting to bounce back well and perhaps signaling a new chapter in a year that has been physically challenging. While the Sox will still carefully monitor his condition before committing to the idea that he will be able to play every day, he looked more like a player who could do just that.

“The first day, I showed up to spring training. The second day, there was no more 100 percent. … It was a comfort level, being able to go out and maintain some certain things I needed to have to play the game. It’s not all the way there, but I’m good enough to play baseball every day,” said Cameron. “The grinding on the field, the running around the bases, diving back, that type of thing, I felt pretty good.”

In the batter’s box, he has looked healthy. Cameron is now 6-for-17 (.353) in his five games since coming off the disabled list after going 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of doubles on Sunday. Of significant relief to the 37-year-old was the fact that his second double — which he blasted off the Wall in deep left-center — scored a pair of runs.

In the process, he recorded his first ever RBIs as a member of the Sox, ending what had been the longest RBI drought to start a Sox career since Ivan Calderon went 17 games at the start of the 1993 season without driving in a run. Now, he is just hoping that — after coming close to going deep on that run-scoring double — a homer may soon follow.

“It was good getting one of the zeroes off the board. I’m still working on the other one. I’ve been trying for a couple of days, and it won’t get up over that wall yet. I guess it’ll come in the future. I’m just trying to constantly continue to have good at-bats, and those things will come,” said Cameron. “Once that happens, I’ll feel a whole lot better. It’s been a long time since I hit a homer.”

While Cameron still awaits that milestone (something he last accomplished last Sept. 30), he is nevertheless heartened by his ability to perform. On Sunday, he was a key contributor to a Sox offense that had its bottom third of the order (Jason Varitek, Bill Hall and Cameron) go 6-for-11 with seven runs and three runs batted in.

“It gave me a sense of confidence,” Cameron said of his return to regular playing time. “I don’t have to do too much hitting ninth. I’m just an old guy hitting ninth, going up there, trying to have good at-bats, know that things are starting to build up for me.”

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