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Cameron gets another chance

06.06.10 at 1:20 pm ET

BALTIMORE — After another week on the side lines due to soreness in the left side of his abdomen, Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron was enthusiastic about returning to the lineup for Sunday’s tilt against the Orioles. He felt confident that he expected to contribute “sexiness and color” through his return, and contemplated the fact that he, Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall will comprise the outfield on Sunday, marking the first time since April 20, 2001, that the Sox featured three African-American outfielders in their starting lineup. (On that date, it was Troy O’Leary, Carl Everett and Darren Lewis in the lineup.)

‘€œIt’€™s going to be kind of cool,’€ said Cameron. ‘€œI get a chance one more time to run out here and see if I can play some baseball.’€

Cameron recognized that there is an element of the unknown to his return, describing a return to games as being the “true test” of his condition. He recognizes that surgery “could be down the road,” though he said that was a medical decision for later in the season, and that for now, he was simply looking forward to the chance to play in his 17th game of the year. He has been determined by team doctors to be healthy enough to play, but he is not at full strength.

“There are some things I’m still trying to get over,” said Cameron. “Sometimes, it’s not conducive to a great healthy opportunity.”

The Sox are mindful of the fact that, after Cameron played in three consecutive games, he ended up missing the next week. As such, he will likely be placed under even greater restrictions than he was when he returned from the disabled list for an abdominal strain on May 25.

“I don’€™t know that we have answers for a week or 10 days or a year, but I think medically he’€™s been cleared to play. I don’€™t think he’€™s 100 percent,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “Hopefully, he’€™ll be able to play today, help us win and then be able to bounce back, too. That’€™s the big question ‘€“ how he’€™ll bounce back.

“He’€™s not going to play everyday. That’€™s not going to be in his best interests, I know that,” he added. “I went to him right away [before last Sunday’s game] and said, ‘€˜If I play you three days in a row and that pushes you over’€¦’€™ He felt bad. He said, ‘€˜I felt good. I didn’€™t feel bad till the next day.’€™ So we kind of talked about having days off before you get to that point. None of us has a crystal ball, but we probably have to be cognizant of that, that that happened.”

The sequence of events has been an unwelcome one for Cameron. Yet the 37-year-old suggested that it could have been worse — he could have run into the brick wall that is Adrian Beltre, whose collisions with Jacoby Ellsbury and then Jeremy Hermida left a pair of outfielders nursing their wounds.

“I told [Beltre] that I will never run into him. The ball will either drop, or I’€™ll punch him,’€ Cameron laughed. ‘€œThey carried me off the field on a stretcher one time [when he had a horrific collision with Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran that resulted in a concussion and skull fracture], and I said it would be the last time they carried me off the field.’€

(While Ellsbury remains on the disabled list as he recovers from his hairline fracture to four ribs, Hermida is likely available today as he recovers from soreness in his chest.)

As for the possibility that his current strain will require surgery, Cameron preferred not to dwell on that possibility.

‘€œI’€™ve gotten two strikes already, but it’€™s hard to say,’€ he said. ‘€œThat’€™s a medical question that I don’€™t have the right answer for. That’€™s something that will come in a discussion, but to say that would be looking at it as a negative impact in my mind. I’€™m all about the positive and the good vibe. Can you feel it?’€

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