05/12/10 7:41 PM ET
Ortiz feeling back in groove
After slow start, Red Sox slugger getting back on track
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
"I feel great right now," Ortiz said before Wednesday's 3-2 loss. "I feel the way I like to be right now."
Ortiz exemplified that by generating the only two hits Boston had against Toronto starter Shaun Marcum, who went seven innings. Ortiz hit two line-drive singles and got his average to an even .200 for the first time all season.
In May, Ortiz is hitting .310 with three homers and seven RBIs. His overall season numbers (four homers, 11 RBIs entering Wednesday) don't look quite as nice.
"He's getting closer and closer," said Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. "I don't think he's completely where he wants to be, but he's feeling a lot more confident in the box. He's a little more confident getting deeper in the counts."
When did his swing start feeling better?
"I would say after the last road trip. I figured a lot of things out and you can see the difference," said Ortiz. "I'm just not playing every day right now."
But Ortiz is also confident that the at-bats will come once he starts to produce at a more dramatic rate.
"It's May 11 and we play all the way until October," Ortiz said. "I'm one of those guys that ... I've made my whole season in two months. When I first got here [in 2003], I didn't even start playing every day until the second half of the season."
Magadan isn't surprised by Ortiz's mini-resurgence because he has seen the work that has gone into it.
"He's putting consistently good swings on balls," Magadan said. "He's putting himself in a good position to put a good swing on the ball. He's ready on time. He's a little more direct to the ball. The guys that are throwing 93, 94, 95, he's getting to those pitches. He's seeing the offspeed [pitches] better. When you don't have to start earlier or cheat to get to the hard stuff, you tend to take the nasty breaking balls. He's done a better job of that. He's just put a lot of hard work in, and you're starting to see the results of that now."
Cameron eyes Bronx return to lineup
BOSTON -- In mid-rehab assignment, Red Sox center fielder Mike Cameron checked back into Fenway Park on Wednesday to work out under the supervision of the training staff and take a day off from playing in a game.
While the Red Sox will travel to Detroit for a three-game series that starts on Friday, Cameron hopes to rejoin his teammates on Monday for the start of a two-game series at Yankee Stadium.
"That's what we're shooting for," said Cameron. "That's kind of a tentative idea. Basically it will depend on how my body goes. And on top of that, just playing the game, running around, diving, going first to third. We'll see. That's the tentative plan, but we just have to see how the body responds. So far it's been good."
Cameron has played two games for Triple-A Pawtucket, going 2-for-6. He started at designated hitter on Monday and played center in Tuesday's game.
The PawSox schedule works out well for Cameron, because the team is at home the rest of the week. Cameron will serve as the DH for Pawtucket's 12:05 p.m. ET game on Thursday. He will return to center field for Pawtucket on Friday.
Cameron last played for the Red Sox on April 19 before being sidelined with a lower abdominal strain.
"I think he feels like he needs four to five games baseball-wise," manager Terry Francona said. "So if everything goes OK physically, that's probably a realistic timetable. Again, we'll kind of reserve the right to check every day, because I think we have an obligation to do that."
As for Jacoby Ellsbury, the team's other starting outfielder on the disabled list, the left fielder continues to improve. In fact, he will likely start a rehab assignment in a few days.
"Like we talked about yesterday, the last three or four days have been pretty good for him," Francona said. "I think we hope the next three or four days are really good for him, because then the next step is playing in a game. I think we're getting closer. I don't know if we're there. We're getting close."
Ellsbury is recovering from a hairline fracture on four of his left ribs suffered in an April 11 collision with Adrian Beltre.
Wakefield notches 2,000th strikeout
BOSTON -- Not only did Tim Wakefield get a spot a start on Wednesday, but he notched a milestone along the way. When he struck out Blue Jays center fielder Vernon on -- what else? -- a knuckleball, it was No. 2,000 in his career.
The 43-year-old Wakefield is the fourth active pitcher to have 2,000 strikeouts. The others are Jamie Moyer (Phillies), Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez of the Yankees.
"I'm very proud of that," Wakefield said after Boston's 3-2 loss. "It's a tribute to longevity and I feel very blessed I've been able to wear this uniform for a long time and I've been able to accomplish 2,000 strikeouts."
Wakefield struck out Wells to end the fourth inning, and his milestone was displayed on the center-field scoreboard, prompting roars from the Fenway faithful. A member of the Red Sox since 1995, Wakefield doffed his cap to the crowd. Wakefield also got a big ovation in his previous start at Fenway, a solid performance against the Orioles on April 25.
"It's phenomenal," said Wakefield. "The fans have been behind me the whole time I've been here. I'm very proud to be able to come out and not only get an ovation for an accomplishment, [but] for a great start like my last one. They acknowledge great work. I'm honored to be able to tip my cap to them."
The right-hander was making his fifth start of the season. He gave up five hits and three runs over seven innings, walking one and striking out five. Wakefield was recently supplanted from the rotation to make room for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was coming off the disabled list. Wakefield made Wednesday's start on Wednesday in place of Josh Beckett. Originally, the Red Sox slotted Wakefield in just to buy the struggling Beckett an extra couple of days of side work. But the move was even a better fit when Beckett came down with back spasms.
Whether or not Wakefield stays in the rotation for one more turn depends on Beckett's recovery.
Before his move to the bullpen a couple of weeks ago, Wakefield had worked exclusively as a starter since the 2003 season, save for a couple of cameo performances in the bullpen.
"It's been very difficult," Wakefield said. "Obviously it's a situation that I don't want to be in. I'm not happy about it, but it is what it is and I have to deal with it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.