Progress, but no timetable for OFs

The Boston Red Sox got positive news Tuesday on ailing outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury (hairline fracture in ribs) and Mike Cameron (abdominal strain), both of whom are making progress toward returning to the team.

Ellsbury, who has been out since an April 11 collision with Adrian Beltre, ran the bases Tuesday, according to manager Terry Francona, and "as he ran, he did a lot better as he progressed."

Francona said Ellsbury was not yet ready to return, but is "really improving."

"In his words, the last three to four days have been significant improvement, so that's good," Francona said. "Hopefully the next three to four days, the same trend will continue."

Francona said Cameron felt good after the first game of a Triple-A rehab assignment Monday night. Cameron then went 1 for 3 in another rehab start on Tuesday. He played center field and handled two routine fly balls.

"I'm getting close, but I'm not quite there," Cameron said. "I'm able to run now, but I'm still not quite where I want to be. After a few more games, I think I'll be OK."

He had a double, walk and run scored in four plate appearances on Monday.

"Mike had a solid night. He checked in with me last night, felt good," Francona said before Tuesday's game. He added that Cameron "will not play [Wednesday], and then we'll probably have him Thursday playing again.

"I think if everything goes according to plan, I think he feels like he probably needs four or five games. I don't think that is unrealistic."

On Tuesday, Cameron lined a 1-2 pitch from right-hander Jason Parr to center in the first. After advancing to second on a passed ball, Cameron tagged up and moved to third on a fly to center.

Cameron, who was limited to four plate appearances, struck out swinging in the fourth and popped out to second in the seventh.

"Playing in the field was the next test," Cameron said. "I got a chance to get after a couple of balls, which was good for me, and get on base and run around a little bit. Most importantly, I'm starting to feel like I'm getting back into some type of baseball rhythm. "

Francona, however, wouldn't put a timetable on when Cameron might return.

"We want to not put arbitrary dates on him. We want him to play when he's ready to play. We don't want to set him back."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots and occasionally the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.