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Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Cameron expects to shut down for season

By Gordon Edes

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron, who has played in only 48 of the team’s 120 games this season because of an abdominal tear and additional complications, said Tuesday night that he does not expect to play again the rest of the season.

Cameron said there is a conference call scheduled for Wednesday with general manager Theo Epstein and his agent, Mike Nicotera, in which they intend to discuss a timetable for surgery to repair the torn muscle. Cameron was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 2 (retroactive to July 31), and it was hoped that rest and treatment would permit him to return to action.

But his body has not responded as well as he had hoped, Cameron said. Besides the abdominal tear, he said he is also dealing with a groin strain and hip flexor.

“We’re in a position now where we need all of the healthy -- physically and mentally -- guys possible playing in the field,’’ he said. “Me trying to play 65 percent is probably not beneficial to the ballclub at moment.

“We’re coming to the part of season now where it’s important to have the healthiest guys on the baseball field. I’m looking at that aspect. Sometimes, as hard as it’s been to give in to certain things, it’s probably best to start looking at other options now.’’

Cameron said that it makes sense to have surgery as soon as possible to ensure that he’ll be ready for spring training next season. “If I’m not ready [by spring training], I’ll be damn near close,’’ he said.

Cameron has played hurt since the team’s first road trip of the season, when he passed a kidney stone after a game in Minnesota on April 15. The abdominal tear was discovered a couple of days later back in Boston. He went on the disabled list for the first time on April 20 (retroactive to April 19) and missed 34 games before being activated on May 25. Even then, it was clear he was never right, and played in as many as five consecutive games only once after his return.

He played eight times in a 10-day span at the end of July, but that put him back on the DL.

“Probably the worst thing for me is to have the [pain] threshold I have,’’ he said. “But man, we worked so hard just to be at this point as a team. I always look at it from a team aspect, even though everybody is saying, don’t look at it from the team aspect, look at it from the individual aspect.

“But now, from the aspect of looking at the baseball club, I don’t feel like it would be as helpful to the team to try to be a hero.’’

Cameron’s acknowledgment that he is done for the year came on the same day that an industry source told ESPNBoston.com that tests performed in Los Angeles revealed that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has a fractured rib and, according to the source, probably will miss the rest of the season.

Manager Terry Francona said Tuesday that rookie Ryan Kalish likely will get the majority of time in center field; in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels, Kalish hit his first major-league grand slam.

“Are you serious?’’ Cameron said when told of Ellsbury’s rib condition. “Wow.

“That’s hard. It’s been a hard year, man, for this ballclub. At the same time, there have been so many guys -- the Cinderella Man over there in the corner [Darnell McDonald], [Daniel Nava come up and do his thing, Kalish in a short time has been able to shine and show people he is able to play. And don’t forget this guy [Bill Hall] right here.’’

Cameron said the way that the club has overcome so many setbacks has made it hard for him to withdraw from the season.

“Other than the people in this clubhouse, we’ve been beat like a dead horse sometimes,’’ he said. “We’ve been on our ninth life support, but somehow or another we keep finding a way to keep our heads above the water line.

“I’m really thinking it’s coming down to the last week and a half, two weeks. We’ve had a rope to hang ourselves and we’ve still been able to manage. That’s what’s been special about this club. It’s been a special year. You look at all the guys who have been hurt, but it’s still been a special year because of things guys have done, so many guys doing big things.’’

That’s what has made it a special season, he said, with a chance of a surprise ending.

“If you allow a team of this caliber to hang around, a team that has this pedigree of being able to win, who knows what type of experience it may bring going down the stretch.’’

But reluctantly, Cameron’s focus for himself must shift to 2011.

“Yeah,’’ he said with a smile, “although a lot of people don’t like it, I've still got one more year here, you know.’’

Cameron, who will turn 38 on Jan. 8, signed a two-year, $15.5 million contract with the Red Sox last December, when Epstein believed Cameron would make a significant impact on the team’s outfield defense, with Ellsbury moving from center to left. With both players hurt within the season’s first two weeks, no one ever saw how that plan might have worked out.

Maybe in 2011?

“If that’s in the plans,’’ he said. “I don’t know what’s in store for next year. Who knows? But I’ll be here next year.’’