ST. PETERSBURG -- Dustin Pedroia was only going to stay in a slump for so long. The star second baseman busted out of an 0-for-19 drought by going 3-for-5 to help the Red Sox to Monday night's 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
One sign that Pedroia's fortunes were changing occurred in his second at-bat, when he hit a popup off one of the catwalks. It was ruled a foul ball, and Pedroia rallied back to hit a single to right.
"That scared me," said Pedroia. "I didn't run. I'm like, 'Oh my god, [manager Terry Francona] is going to bench me for seven months and laugh about it.' That was nice. Nice break."
Often times, Pedroia follows a cold streak with a prolonged hot streak. The Red Sox hope that is again the case.
Francona never seemed worried during Pedroia's slump.
"I don't worry, I care," Francona said. "He's giving more than he has. You see that ball hit that speaker or the catwalk, I've never been happy about that before. Then he fights one off into right field and it ends up being a big at-bat. I stand by that statement. He will get as hot as he got cold. I firmly believe that."
Cameron set to return to Red Sox
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Red Sox will welcome Mike Cameron back to their starting lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Rays, as the outfielder is set to return from a lower abdominal strain that has kept him on the disabled list since April 19.
If you think Cameron has been out awhile, consider that he's actually ahead of schedule, compared to most people who have similar injuries.
"Everybody I talked to who had this injury missed two months or they had surgery," said Cameron. "Pretty much everybody. Torii Hunter, [Josh] Hamilton, Joba Chamberlain. I just met some guys in the Minor Leagues who had the same thing."
Unlike Jacoby Ellsbury, who returned Saturday and will pretty much be full speed ahead in terms of playing time, Cameron will get breaks mixed in. He also might not be ready to patrol center field on a full-time basis. The presence of Ellsbury -- a full-time center fielder until this season -- makes it easy for manager Terry Francona to play Cameron in the corner spots if need be.
Is Cameron ready to handle the rigors of center field again?
"Yeah, I should be OK. Yeah, I don't know, you'll have to talk to Tito," said Cameron. "I may even move around a little bit, to different spots."
It is a delicate injury -- one that Cameron took precautions with while he was on the comeback trail. He finally turned a corner in the last few days, capped by a walk-off homer in the 10th inning for Double-A Portland on Sunday.
"I haven't hit a walk-off in God knows when," Cameron said. "To actually hit a homer and hit it in extra innings is, you know, I think I may be the first guy to play 10 innings in a rehab assignment start."
Cameron joined the Red Sox for Monday's game, but the club will wait a day to activate him so he can get his feet back under him.
How did he know he was ready to return?
"I just feel like now I won't get hurt, because I feel like I'm to a point now where I'm strong enough to kind of withstand some of the things that are going on," said Cameron.
Francona will be cognizant of not playing Cameron too much too soon, something that is made easier by having Jeremy Hermida available off the bench.
"We're probably not going to be able to run him out there every day for awhile," Francona said. "We know that. And I think he knows that. Having him activated, and we have Hermida, now we've got Ells back, we think we can do this, and again, we understand that we have a responsibility not to run him into the ground. We understand that. We'll keep an eye on him and we think it'll work well."
V-Mart day-to-day with toe injury
ST. PETERSBURG -- By the time Victor Martinez met with the media after Monday night's 6-1 win over the Rays, the nail of his left big toe was completely discolored. But black and blue is far better than broken.
Martinez, who was hit on that left big toe in the bottom of the second inning by a Jason Bartlett foul ball, was forced out of the game in the top of the third. After drawing a walk, he couldn't even trot to first base, going down the basepath in an all-out limp. Jason Varitek came on to pinch-run.
X-rays proved to be negative.
"It's painful," said Martinez. "It's a lot of pain. The good thing is the X-ray came out negative. Nothing is broken. We'll see how it feels tomorrow. But it's really, really painful."
Varitek will start Tuesday night's game.
"I think it's to the point where I don't think we have to make a roster move," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "'Tek catches [Tuesday], obviously. But I think in a pinch, Victor will be available. We'll certainly check with him in the morning, but I think we dodged a bullet there."
According to Francona, Mike Lowell volunteered to be Boston's emergency catcher in the event anything happened to Varitek.
Martinez has been in a groove of late. He had four straight multi-hit games entering Monday, a span in which he went 9-for-17 with four doubles and a homer.
McDonald designated for assignment
ST. PETERSBURG -- Needing roster space to make way for Mike Cameron, who will be activated on Tuesday night, the Red Sox were forced to designate outfielder Darnell McDonald for assignment after Monday's win over the Rays.
It was a hard conversation for manager Terry Francona to have with McDonald, who has done everything the club asked since joining the club on April 20. In fact, McDonald made a dramatic entrance on that first day with the Red Sox, belting a pinch-hit, game-tying homer and then beating the Rangers with a walk-off single off the Green Monster.
He hit .263 with three homers and 11 RBIs and was Boston's primary center fielder during the time that Jacoby Ellsbury and Cameron were both on the disabled list.
"While I was here, I had a good time," said McDonald. "I got a chance to play every day. Like I said, it's a tough situation for everybody. Tito expressed that to me. It's one of those things. Like I said, I hope some other doors have opened up from getting an opportunity here."
Though Francona would love to see McDonald stay in the organization and make a return stint to the Red Sox at some point this season, he is also rooting for the outfielder to get a job on another team's Major League roster. Francona is skeptical that McDonald will clear waivers and stay in the Boston organization.
"I hope for his sake, somebody claims him," Francona said. "I would be shocked if somebody doesn't. I guess I hope for our sake they don't. That's what we told him. We had to do it. We're very appreciative of what he did for us. I hope his days in our uniform aren't over. I have a feeling they will be."
No timetable for Lowrie's rehab stint
ST. PETERSBURG -- Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who has been working his way back from mononucleosis in the relative solitude of the team's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., paid a visit to his former teammates on Monday.
There is still no set timetable for Lowrie to begin a Minor League rehab assignment, as the symptoms of mono have not disappeared entirely. Lowrie was diagnosed with mono roughly halfway through Spring Training.
How is he feeling?
"A lot better than I did a couple of months ago, that's for sure," said Lowrie. "I've been going back and forth between lifting and doing baseball activity. I'm working my way back in. I'm starting to put weight back on, which is a good thing."
Lowrie lost about 12 pounds during the ordeal.
"It was bad," Lowrie said. "I'd sleep 12 hours a night and wake up tired. It wasn't any fun. It's taken awhile, and it's going to take awhile to build back up, too."
Boston's starting shortstop down the stretch in 2008, Lowrie was hindered by left wrist problems for all of 2009. He thinks the wrist has gotten better.
"I've been working real hard with Brad Pearson, the head Minor League athletic trainer, and we've set out some real good goals about getting my wrist better," Lowrie said. "Maybe that's the silver lining in all this, is that it gives my wrist a chance to get better."
What will Lowrie do during his brief visit with the Red Sox?
"He's going to go out and take some ground balls with us. He'll hit in the cage with [hitting coach Dave Magadan]," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We're trying to get him up to Boston towards the middle of the week just to see the medical people up there just for a couple of days.
"He looks a lot stronger than the last time we saw him. When you haven't seen a guy for awhile, it's kind of nice ... he was looking a little weak the last time we saw him. He was walking kind of slow. Nice to see him looking stronger. It will be interesting to watch him out on the field, see how he's moving around."
Red Sox call up reliever Atchison
Right-hander Scott Atchison, who won a job at the end of Spring Training only to be sent to Triple-A on April 26, returned to the Red Sox on Monday. Atchison replaced shortstop Angel Sanchez, who was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
It was a brief stint with the Red Sox for Sanchez, who came on board and started last Thursday's game at Fenway while starting shortstop Marco Scutaro recovered from a cortisone shot in his left elbow.
"We'll get back to having a normal bullpen and let Sanchez go back and play," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Because of some of the length our starters gave us the last four or five days, we felt we could go through a National League city [with 11 pitchers] and potentially it would help us. Now we're back in American League baseball. It will be nice to have the arm."
Atchison posted a 6.10 ERA in seven outings in his first stint with the Sox. In eight games for Pawtucket, Atchison was 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA.
"I was able to maybe work on little things, maybe get my curveball back over for strikes," Atchison said. "It was just kind of getting everything locked in and trying to feel like I felt in the spring, to be honest. I feel like I was able to accomplish that. Hopefully, I can carry that over up here."
Francona said he thinks that Atchison is someone he can depend on.
"I think it's a guy that we probably liked more than people realize anyway. He's been throwing in a lot of different situations," Francona said. "He's a strike thrower. He's got that cutter for lefties. I think we're actually glad we could get him back. We like him. I think we think he can help us."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.