- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron, who told ESPNBoston.com Tuesday night that he was reluctantly shutting down, will undergo season-ending surgery, manager Terry Francona confirmed Wednesday.
Cameron, 37, has played all season with an abdominal tear, which was diagnosed two weeks into the season, just a couple of days after he passed a kidney stone. The injury limited him to just 48 games. Cameron also said he had a hip flexor and groin injury related to his original injury.
"We're in a position now where we need all of the healthy -- physically and mentally -- guys possible playing in the field," Cameron said Tuesday night. "Me trying to play 65 percent is probably not beneficial to the ballclub at the 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."
The decision to have surgery, Francona said Wednesday, came after he and GM Theo Epstein spoke with the player Tuesday night, and Epstein had a follow-up conversation with Cameron's agent, Mike Nicotera, on Wednesday.
Francona said that Cameron intended to consult several doctors before electing a time and place to have surgery. The manager said he did not know how extensive the surgery would be, but hoped that Cameron would be ready for spring training.
"We got to the point with Cam where going farther was going to bite into a chunk of next year,'' Francona said. "He tried his best. It was getting a little hard for him. He's disappointed, but I think this is the right thing to do.
"He was fighting an uphill fight. He just couldn't do what he wanted to do. He'd be out there in the seventh inning, not knowing if he could make a play.''
Cameron began experiencing discomfort in the area during spring training.
"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 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 in December, when Epstein believed Cameron would make a significant impact on the team's outfield defense, with Jacoby 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."
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.
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