Cameron uncertain about future

Updated: June 3, 2010, 11:35 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- An MRI taken on ailing Red Sox center fielder Mike Cameron, who has been dealing with an abdominal tear on the left side, showed there is no further damage to that area, manager Terry Francona said Wednesday. But whether it was good news, as Francona termed it, is certainly open to interpretation.

After the Red Sox's 6-4 win over Oakland, the 37-year-old Cameron didn't sound overly upbeat about his condition.

Cameron The doctor told me you've overworked yourself. You've played a long time. Some of the things that are happening to you now … you can't withstand some of those things so you've got to be really careful.

-- Mike Cameron

"I feel like it's going to come, but I've got to get through these nagging little things, particularly [those] that have so much to do with running fast and cutting,'' he said. "At the same time, little things in baseball, they happen every day. You feel like time is not on your side."

The news on Cameron was good in the sense that after he underwent an MRI and was seen by a specialist Wednesday, the team did not feel it necessary for him to return to the disabled list.

Cameron, who has played in just 16 of the team's 54 games because of a left abdominal tear and has missed the last two games after complaining of pain on the other side, is hopeful that he will return to the lineup "in a few days."

"As long as my range of motion comes back and the inflammation goes out, then everything should go into order as planned,'' he said. "I don't plan on being out that long. That's one of the reasons why we held off on the DL thing, because last time it took me about four days to get back going. That's what we're hoping for and looking for.''

But the discovery of bleeding and deep inflammation -- both symptomatic of tearing -- on the opposite side of the abdomen from where Cameron initially was injured, and pain radiating into his back, raises a great deal of uncertainty about how healthy he will be going forward.

Cameron said he was told Wednesday that 20 seasons of playing professional baseball have taken a toll on his body, that he will need more time to heal, and while he should not do further damage to the abdomen unless he plays hurt, there are no guarantees how his body will respond.

"It's been kind of the mantra of my whole career, that I have been able to go out and play just about every day,'' Cameron said somberly after Wednesday night's 6-4 win over the Oakland Athletics. "Sometimes things change, and with change coming, maybe it's a sign for me to respect what my body is trying to tell me, you've got to slow down and give yourself time. In baseball, it's hard to respect that.''

What makes it hard, Cameron said, is that time is not his ally.

"I feel like I've already been out a year sitting out 30-something games, and the whole time I've been out, I've been sitting down, thinking can this get better, or can I work on something else?

"The doctor told me you've overworked yourself. You've played a long time. Some of the things that are happening to you now … you can't withstand some of those things so you've got to be really careful.

"Not the way I play, because I say there's no way I'm going to change the way I play.''

Cameron said he was told that he hurt the other side of his abdomen because he was favoring the injury. "I managed to put myself in a bind,'' he said.

"You know, God willing, everything will be OK if I get through this one. As I say this, I guess I should knock on wood because I said if I got through the last one, I'd be OK. But everything is bilateral -- the left has a lot to do with the right -- and subconsciously, the doctor told me my balance is off. When I get my balance right, everything will be fine.''

Jacoby Ellsbury is also out, with fractured ribs that have limited him to nine of 54 games. In Triple-A Pawtucket, the Red Sox are now alternating Josh Reddick and the recently promoted Ryan Kalish in center field, and it's not inconceivable they may need to seek additional outfield help.

Cameron has little choice but to proceed with caution.

"I made it this far,'' he said. "I don't want to turn back and just lay it out on the table without giving myself an opportunity to [recover] because if I do, my season will be really short. I didn't come to Boston to play that injured. I came to play to have the enjoyment of the last years of my career in a good environment … not all hell breaking loose and not being able to play the way I'm capable of playing.''

Francona was more positive about Cameron before the game.

"I think Cam feels a lot better, knowing that when this subsides, which it already is, but to the point where he can do everything he wants, he's not going to hurt himself," Francona said. "Already you can see a different look in his eyes. So that was really good news."

Francona said Cameron will not play Thursday afternoon, but could return when the Sox travel to Baltimore over the weekend.

He had played three games in a row last weekend and was feeling pain in his side Sunday night, so he called Francona and asked if he could have a MRI taken to make sure there was no further damage.

"He's a tough kid and he plays through a lot, but this has been troubling for him," Francona said. "There were certain things, at times, that he felt he couldn't do physically that he needs to do."

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com contributed to this report.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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