Morning notes: Pitching plan is close

March, 26, 2010
FORT MYERS, Fla. – A few quick hits from Terry Francona’s chat with reporters this morning:

Early-season pitching plan is close. With the Red Sox having three off days within the first 10 days of the season, Francona has talked about how that could impact the decisions he makes with his starting rotation. Asked this morning when he expects things to be finalized, he said: “Very soon. I think we’re getting pretty close. It’s not supposed to be secretive. I’m just not comfortable telling a few guys when they’re pitching. I don’t think it works very well. We’ll have it pretty soon. We’ll lay it out, and why, and stuff like that – and then reserve the right to change it when it snows.”

The top three in the rotation -- Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey -- figure to be set, the decision coming in choosing Tim Wakefield or Clay Buchholz to take the No. 4 spot to start the season (Daisuke Matsuzaka has been ruled out for at least the first two weeks). Projecting it out, a fifth starter may not see action until April 18.

Saturday’s projected travel plans. With the Red Sox heading to Sarasota tomorrow for an exhibition game against the Orioles, Francona said that he expects second baseman Dustin Pedroia to make the trip. Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz will be among the players to stay behind. Victor Martinez is scheduled to play first base, with Mike Lowell the designated hitter.

Catching plans for Varitek will be more traditional. Instead of matching up backup catcher Jason Varitek with one particular pitcher – as the Sox have done in the past with a designated catcher for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield – Francona said that he expects a more traditional approach. “I just don’t know if it’s to our advantage to do that [matching up], because we have regular players at other positions and you’re talking about taking Victor [Martinez’s] bat out,” Francona said.

Mike Reiss

ESPN Staff Writer



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