PORTLAND — A near-capacity crowd at Hadlock Field got to watch two major leaguers patrol the outfield and a future big leaguer push off the mound.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron put in their rehab work Thursday and went a combined 4 for 8 for the Portland Sea Dogs.

They got three of the four hits allowed by New Britain starter Kyle Gibson, who seems worth the first-round draft pick the Minnesota Twins used on him last year.

Gibson (2-0) struck out seven as the Rock Cats silenced the Sea Dogs 6-2 before a crowd of 6,786.

Ellsbury, in his second rehab game for Portland this week, played left field and went 3 for 4 with a double, stolen base and run scored.

Coming back from four fractured ribs, Ellsbury looked in fine shape.

And, yes, Ellsbury dived back to first base on a pickoff attempt, testing those ribs.

“It felt fine,” Ellsbury said. “That was the biggest concern everyone had. The biggest thing was to trust it and play with no hesitation.”

Cameron made his Hadlock debut, played center field and was 1 for 4 with an RBI double. Cameron is coming back from an abdominal tear.

“No pain today, so that is good,” Cameron said. “That’s probably something I’ll have to deal with all season.“Every day is a work in progress as far as timing is concerned.”

Cameron could be in Portland for the rest of the week. He said he plans to play tonight, possibly take Saturday off and play again Sunday.

Ellsbury is not sure. He could be in Philadelphia tonight (with the Red Sox) or back at Hadlock Field.

“I’ll talk to Tito (Boston Manager Terry Francona) and the training staff,” Ellsbury said. “I’ll give them my input. I felt pretty good today, and I’ll let them know.”

On Thursday, both players and the rest of the Sea Dogs got a good test with Gibson pitching.

“The guy on the mound today had pretty good stuff,” said Cameron.

Gibson, 22, did not play last year after being drafted out of the University of Missouri with a $1.85 million signing bonus. This year, with a two-seam fastball, slider and change-up, he breezed through seven games in Class A with a 1.87 ERA and now has a 1.26 ERA in two games in Double-A.

When Gibson took the mound Thursday, the Rock Cats already had a 2-0 lead against Kyle Weiland (0-3) after a walk and three hits.

Weiland lasted five innings, allowing seven hits and five runs with two walks and four strikeouts.

Gibson gave up a leadoff double by Ellsbury off the left-field wall, but showed his composure by striking out the next three batters, including Cameron swinging at a 91-mph sinking fastball.

New Britain went up 5-0 in the fifth, helped by Erik Lis’ two-run homer to the top row of the right-field pavilion.

In the sixth, Ellsbury hit a dribbler to the right side for a one-out infield single. After diving back to first on a pickoff try, he stole second.

Cameron doubled him in with a drive to deep right-center.

“Steal a base. Cam drove me in. Textbook,” Ellsbury said with a smile.

Luis Exposito singled to score Cameron, and that was all for the Sea Dogs’ offense.

Ellsbury’s last hit was a hard grounder to right field in the eighth. Cameron followed with a hard liner, directly at left fielder Brandon Roberts.

New Britain brought in 7-foot-1 reliever Loek Van Mil to finish the game in the ninth. Van Mil, who is from Netherlands, provides a stark contrast to New Britain’s 5-3 shortstop Chris Cates, who played superb defense throughout the series.

They are the tallest and shortest players in professional baseball, according to New Britain radio announcer Jeff Dooley.

NOTES:
Sea Dogs ace Felix Doubront was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. He fills the roster spot left by Joe Nelson, who was promoted to Boston to replace the injured Josh Beckett. Doubront, 22, was in his second season with Portland. He was 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA. … The Red Sox have not sent Portland a new pitcher, but someone should arrive in time for Saturday’s doubleheader.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:
[email protected]