Cameron out, Ellsbury not close

BOSTON -- The Red Sox center-field situation remains unstable, to say the least.

Mike Cameron is not in Tuesday’s starting lineup, sitting out because of soreness related to his abdominal tear. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that Cameron will be looked at later Tuesday by team medical director Thomas Gill. The soreness, Francona said, is on the opposite side from where Cameron sustained his original injury.

“Hopefully, just a little sore,’’ Francona said. “Some of that excitement we felt Sunday [when Cameron had two doubles, walked and drove in two runs] was tempered today.’’

What is troubling is that Cameron can’t play even though the Sox had Monday off. It certainly underscores the likelihood that this will be something that Cameron will be dealing with all summer.

Darnell McDonald was scheduled to start in center field Tuesday night.

Jacoby Ellsbury, meanwhile, hit in the batting cage Tuesday, according to Francona, but it’s clear the Sox will proceed more cautiously this go-round after it was determined last week that Ellsbury came back too soon from his fractured ribs.

“It’s kind of basically what he can handle not just on a daily basis, but repeating it and then taking it out and competing,’’ Francona said. “We’ve run every test imaginable to rule out [the causes]. What it comes to, as we’ve said all along, is symptoms. If it hurts and gets in the way, it hurts and gets in the way. So you have to treat it accordingly.’’

No one is predicting when Ellsbury will return. He told ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald that another rehab assignment has not been discussed.

Ellsbury finds it ludicrous that anyone would suggest he has a reputation in the Sox organization for being “soft,” an opinion that has espoused in some circles.

“I dive for balls, I run into walls, I slide hard into bases. The fans have been behind me. They know what the deal is,’’ said Ellsbury.

The “soft” reputation began when Ellsbury was in the minor leagues, according to his critics. Sox first-base coach Ron Johnson, who managed Ellsbury in Pawtucket, strongly disagreed. “I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum on that one,’’ he said. “First of all, he hardly was hurt when he played for me, and I remember one time when he had a hammy, I thought as a speed guy it would take him a lot longer to come back, and he came back quicker than we expected.’’

Ellsbury ranked second on the team in innings played last season (1302), trailing only Dustin Pedroia (1346). He was third in 2008, his rookie season, when, according to ESPN’s McDonald, a couple of the veterans spoke with him about the importance of playing through small aches and pains.