SAN FRANCISCO -- The original plan was for Mike Cameron to start Friday night's game against Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez. But given the nature of Thursday's game -- it lasted four hours and 48 minutes -- not to mention the Red Sox didn't arrive in San Francisco until roughly 4 a.m. PT, Red Sox manager Terry Francona changed his mind.
Instead, it was Darnell McDonald who made the start in center. Cameron will return to the starting lineup for Saturday afternoon's game against Joe Martinez. Because Cameron is still regaining his strength from a lower abdominal injury that kept him on the disabled list from April 12-May 24, the Red Sox are trying to manage his playing time and not risk reinjury.
Cameron was pressed into emergency duty, however, when Dustin Pedroia had to leave the game in the third inning after fouling a ball off his left foot. Right fielder Bill Hall moved to second base to replace Pedroia defensively, with McDonald shifting to right.
Cameron is off to a slow start offensively this season, hitting .261 with no homers and five RBIs in 88 at-bats. But he belted a two-run double Thursday.
"I thought he swung the bat great," Francona said. "That was part of the reason we wanted to play him and I know he wanted to play. I don't ever want to slow someone down from getting hot. At the same time, if we play him and he comes up hurting, we're already kind of beat up. That doesn't seem to make sense."
One thing Cameron has plenty of is work ethic. He has done a ton of extra stretching to keep his abdomen loose while also finding the time to work on his swing.
"He's been working to do everything," Francona said. "This guy, he's been busting his [butt] to try to do everything. He's been terrific. He's been doing everything in his power to stay out on the field and be productive. So we're just, like I said, we're not trying to get in his way but we're trying to work with him because we don't want him to hurt himself. I actually thought yesterday when he dove for that ball, he walked around for a second, he set his glove on the outfield grass, I was like, 'Uh-oh.' But he was OK."
Papelbon has adjustments to make
SAN FRANCISCO -- Go back to the drawing board? That is what Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said he needed to do after blowing saves on consecutive days for the first time in his career. However, Papelbon might have been speaking more out of emotion following Thursday night's game, which the Red Sox won, 13-11, thanks to a heroic performance by Dustin Pedroia.
Pitching coach John Farrell feels that Papelbon just needs to make some minor mechanical adjustments and he'll be right back to the dominance he's been accustomed to.
"It's a subtle thing," Farrell said. "When you look to the outings leading up to the two outings in Colorado, he had been dominant. To say that the results of two outings are going to cause him to go back to the drawing board to remake things, that isn't needed. There's no physical issues or anything that have nagged him or plagued him. Part of it is just from a confidence standpoint, too. He was on a good run and he ran into two nights in a row that didn't go his way."
Papelbon's ERA is 3.98, nearly double his career ERA of 2.05.
So what was the problem the last two games?
"There's been some fastballs, obviously, that have found the middle of the plate," Farrell said. "When he's tried to go to either side of the plate, he's either yanked some balls in the middle of the plate or he's let some balls leak back over the plate. The other night, there was obviously some very quick aggression in terms of some early swings. He didn't really have a chance to get ahead in the count. And they did a good job on some balls over the middle of the plate."
So it's a mechanical thing?
"There's certainly some of that," Farrell said. "I wouldn't say there's anything drastically different than what he's thrown. The location of pitches and how he's delivered the ball has been a little bit more side-to-side than a north-to-south approach when he's able to stay on the side of the plate he's intending. And it caused his split to get flat and he pulled it into [Jason] Giambi the other night for the game-winner."
Papelbon will get Friday off after throwing 32 pitches Thursday and eight the night before. The Red Sox have full confidence he will make the necessary adjustments by the time he is called on next.
"He's well aware of it," Farrell said. "He's had a chance to review film, talk with him about it. And yet the freedom to come in and work on things isn't always available in the role that he's in. We continually address it during early work and through conversation and dry drills on the mound. That's been the process we've used for the three-plus years we've worked together and we'll continue to do so."
Castro called up as bullpen reinforcement
SAN FRANCISCO -- It isn't a good feeling for Red Sox manager Terry Francona when he looks at the blueprint for a particular game and wonders if he has enough innings from his pitching staff to get by. Such was the case for Friday night's contest against the Giants, which necessitated the recall of lefty swingman Fabio Castro from Triple-A Pawtucket.
This, on a night the Red Sox knew they would be without closer Jonathan Papelbon and setup man Manny Delcarmen because of recent usage. Francona also knew that he would only be able to get a minimum amount of pitches from Daniel Bard and Scott Atchison.
Castro is 3-5 with a 6.65 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket in 17 appearances, five of which were starts. To make room for Castro, the Sox optioned outfielder Josh Reddick back to Pawtucket. Reddick filled in the last three days in right field for J.D. Drew, who has been out with a right hamstring injury and is expected to return to the lineup Saturday.
"We possibly, potentially, don't have enough innings," Francona said. "So we talked to Red after the game and told him we were optioning him. He flew with us because everything was already packed. He came in and got his stuff today. He's heading back tonight. It was Castro's day to pitch. He may have just got here. He gives us some length because we really don't have a lot of pitching."
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is serving his second DL stint with fractured ribs, is not yet well enough to do baseball activities. He has been working out at the Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz. The Red Sox are trying to determine if he will fly to Boston when the team returns home next week or remain in Arizona. ... Dustin Pedroia's 15 total bases Thursday marked the most by a Red Sox player since John Valentin, who had that same number during a three-homer game on June 2, 1995. Pedroia also joined Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr as the only Boston second basemen to go deep three times in a game. ... After getting the last two games off, first baseman Kevin Youkilis returned to the lineup Friday. David Ortiz was the odd man out as the Red Sox continue to play without the designated hitter until the end of this three-game series at San Francisco.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.