- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron, who has played the last nine weeks compromised by an abdominal tear with dispiriting results, was placed on the disabled list Monday.
Manager Terry Francona for the first time acknowledged the possibility that Cameron could need surgery that would end his season.
"We're going to put him on the disabled list, let him rest, get some treatment and see how that goes," Francona said. "If that doesn't go well, then certainly surgery is the next step."
Cameron, who was examined by Dr. David Berger on Monday, said no decision has been made on surgery, although he has always viewed it as an inevitability.
"We're not talking about that right now," he said. "That's an option down the road, it's not talked about right now. We'll see how these two weeks go, or these 10 days, before we make a drastic decision, in my case [that] the rest of my season is over.
"Ultimately, this has to be taken care of, but who says it has to be Aug. 15, Sept. 1 or Nov. 30?"
To take Cameron's place on the roster, the Red Sox elected to bring back outfielder Daniel Nava from Pawtucket, holding off on activating Jacoby Ellsbury, who has played just nine games since fracturing ribs in an April 11 collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre.
"We're kind of walking that line," Francona said of the decision not to activate Ellsbury, who was evaluated in Boston and is scheduled to play at least one more game in Pawtucket on Tuesday. "We all know potentially what [Ellsbury] can mean to us, but he still feels it at times, so [we're] trying to not get caught up in, like Cameron going down, then activating a guy before he's ready. So we're trying to exercise the proper judgment."
Francona did not elaborate on what he meant when he said that Ellsbury still "feels it." But one source with direct knowledge of Ellsbury's condition said he is not experiencing the type of pain he previously felt when he came off the disabled list in May and attempted to play.
That pain prompted Ellsbury to seek a second opinion, and an MRI administered by Dr. Lewis Yocum showed a previously undetected fifth fractured rib in his back, and, according to the player, a strained latissimus dorsi muscle, the broadest muscle in the back.
Ellsbury is still experiencing some soreness in the lat muscle, the source said.
Cameron, whose signing to a two-year, $15.5 million contract last December was heralded as a major upgrade to the Sox's outfield defense, had two hits in his Red Sox debut, but his season took a drastic turn for the worse in the span of four days in April. He passed a kidney stone upon the team's return from Minnesota on April 16, was back in the lineup for the next two games, then went back into the hospital to discover the cause of continued abdominal distress.
That's when an MRI showed the abdominal tear, which is similar to a sports hernia. Cameron, placed on the disabled list April 20, elected to forgo surgery at that time, and was activated May 25. But as he acknowledged Monday, there was never a day that he woke up and did not feel discomfort.
"I've been going about as hard as I possibly can go," Cameron said, "and sometimes it gets to the point where your body just stops. It's telling me you got to give it a break."
Cameron batted .265 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in the 37 games (34 starts) in which he appeared after being activated, but because of continuing discomfort he was unable to start 22 games in that span and missed 19 altogether. He did not play in Boston's two games against Detroit this weekend.
"I try to do my best to explain some of the things I've gone through, the limitations it brought me as part of it," Cameron said. "Sometimes I haven't been myself out there. Probably the most frustrating is not being able to run the way I want to, not being able to be free. I had to make some adjustments I probably never had to make before in my career."
Did Cameron regret not having surgery back in April?
"No, because there are no guarantees that I would have been able to come back and play anyway," he said. "You can look at all the cases of everybody else, but every individual is different.
"It wasn't a guarantee that I would be able to come back and be what I am, and that's the risk that I have to be willing to take going into next year."
Cameron is guaranteed $7.25 million for 2011.
"I'm on the DL, I'm not done," he said. "I just have to take a step back and kind of regroup and see what happens."
Nava became just the second major league player ever to hit a
grand slam on the first pitch of his initial big league at-bat
against Philadelphia on June 12.
The switch-hitting Nava batted .286 with that one homer and 16
RBIs in 29 games before he was sent down on July 22.
Meanwhile, second basemen Dustin Pedroia, sidelined with a a broken left
foot since June 26, has been running, but the club would like to
keep him from doing too much. The 2008 AL MVP has already been
hitting and taking grounders.
"Until that pain is very minimal, he has to keep a tight rein
on it," Francona said.
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.