"The funny part is, [if] that you take the knee away, his arm looks so good, because he's not [had] four months of pitching under his belt," Francona said. "The ball came out so well, [the] breaking ball ... he could've pitched a Major League game. He had great stuff. We'll see how his knee bounces back [on Sunday], and if it bounces back like we hope, he'll throw another side on Monday."
The veteran, who has not pitched since May 26 after taking a line drive off his right knee, has only made two starts this season, going 0-1 with an 8.64 ERA.
"It's going to be very difficult to put a timetable on this, because of his history of being able to throw right out of bed," Francona said. "Because of his arm and the condition of his knee, I don't think it's out of the question, if everything goes well, [to have him back in] a couple weeks [for] maybe five innings. I don't think that's out of the question, but then again, a lot of things have to go right. But at least it's a heck of a lot better than walking off [on Saturday] and saying, 'It didn't go well. We've got to shut him down.'"
Change in plans: Right-hander Kyle Snyder will be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make the start for the Red Sox in the series finale against Oakland on Sunday at Fenway Park, giving Tim Wakefield's sore back an extra day of rest. Wakefield will pitch against Kansas City on Monday.
"[Wakefield]'s doing great," Francona said. "He's going to pitch on Monday. Kyle Snyder's going to pitch for us [on Sunday], and we'll obviously make a corresponding move when the time is appropriate. [Wakefield] would've pitched on Sunday, but it makes sense. It gives him an extra day the next time out. With the All-Star break, you have the ability to move a guy back, and I just didn't see why we shouldn't."
This will be Snyder's second start for the Red Sox. On June 19 against Washington, Snyder notched the win, allowing three runs and four hits over five innings while striking out six batters. In three starts with Pawtucket, Snyder went 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA.
"[Snyder] threw an extended side in anticipation of not only him coming here, but coming here on a different day or possibly Sunday or Monday," Francona said. "So he's all set to go."
Not quite ready: Left-hander Lenny DiNardo, who has struggled with a neck strain, had a disappointing rehab assignment with Pawtucket on Friday night against Charlotte. He could not record an out in the first inning and surrendered a grand slam before leaving the game.
"He threw to four hitters and just didn't feel real comfortable," Francona said, "so he will now be further examined by another specialist, and we'll try to get to the root of the problem."
Reliever Keith Foulke, who has not pitched since June 11 because of tendinitis in his right elbow, threw a side session of 33 pitches on Saturday and may throw again on Monday.
"He showed some good fastballs," Francona said. "He threw some pitches he wasn't real satisfied with, which happens with Foulke, because he's kind of tough on himself and his delivery. We'll see how he bounces back."
Starter Matt Clement threw from 80-90 feet on Saturday for the second straight day.
"It's just taking him a little while to get loose, but once he gets loose he's feeling better and better," Francona said. "We'll see how he does. He still has one little spot in the front that's kind of not letting him go. The hope would be, if things go well, we'd give him a side day maybe Monday [or] Tuesday. We'll see. It's all going to be determined on how he's throwing."
Coming up: Snyder (1-0, 10.29) will make his second career start for Boston against right-hander Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.95) and the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park.
Howard Kussoy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.