Francona not worried about limping into playoffs

BOSTON -- Terry Francona was nowhere near the champagne and beer fest that went down inside the Red Sox clubhouse during the early morning hours on Wednesday.

Boston's manager was just minutes away from touching down in Maryland, where he had flown immediately after Tuesday night's game so that he could be at his son Nick's advance from The Basic School, where newly commissioned officers of the Marine Corps must graduate from before they begin infantry school teachings. Nick Francona is now a Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"I was really proud of him,'' Francona said. "It went from a grumpy flight to a nice landing. I was glad for them to let it loose together. I like that. Everybody in that room knows this is not the ultimate accomplishment.''

The Red Sox got into the playoffs after losing five in a row and seven of nine because Texas lost to the Angels in a game that ended close to 1 a.m., in Boston. But Francona is not worried about the Red Sox limping into the playoffs.

"Zero,'' Francona said. "I hope we play good and win today. But the reality is that the next five games are cosmetic. What happens these next five days will have no effect on next week.''

Next up for the Red Sox is choosing a 25-man roster for the first round of the playoffs. Francona and club officials figure to get together, possibly not until Monday, to decide how the postseason roster will be made up. The club must still decide whether to carry 10 or 11 pitchers into the five-game series against the Angels. They must also decide who will start and which games they will start.

The way the rotation sets up, it's a strong possibility that Jon Lester will start Game 1 and will be followed by Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz. Daisuke Matsuzaka could start a possible Game 4, but the Red Sox could also come back with Lester on three days rest and start him in Game 4 and still have Beckett available for a Game 5 back in Anaheim. Games 1 and 2 are scheduled for Anaheim and 3 and 4 at Fenway Park.

"We won't make out our roster until after that meeting,'' Francona said.

NOTES: Josh Beckett threw his usual side session on Wednesday afternoon and reported himself ready to make his final regular season start on Saturday. "My back feels like it never had any problems,'' he said. Beckett received three low-dose cortisone injections in the upper left side of his back on Tuesday. He threw 70 pitches in the bullpen with pitching coach John Farrell watching four hours before game time. .. The Red Sox lineup for Wednesday night's game was conspicuously missing many regulars, some of whom partied well into the morning hours after the Sox clinched their sixth postseason berth in the past seven years. "It might not be a night to use the entire roster,'' Francona said. "I'm betting a few of them might be hung over.''