To Varitek's credit, even after taking the beating, he slammed a prodigious two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning that wound up serving as the game-winning hit for Matsuzaka and the Red Sox on Saturday night.
"That's just part of it," said Francona. "The wear and tear of a game, even when they don't get beat up, for a catcher is significant. When you do get hit like that, that's why he's got that 'C' [for captain] on his shirt. Those things don't get in the way of him being a good player."
Matsuzaka's workload: Matsuzaka, who has been hit hard in his last two starts, seems to be going through that tired period that all starting pitchers go through during the course of a long season. But because Matsuzaka is coming from Japan, where he pitched under a different schedule and had a different routine, he is under more scrutiny.
"I'd rather see him throw closer to 100 pitches than 120 pitches," Matsuzaka's agent Scott Boras told The Boston Globe.
"I have a lot of respect for Scott, I really do. He can run the pitching when he lets me run the contracts, how's that? Is that a fair tradeoff?" quipped Francona.
In actuality, Matsuzaka's workload -- particularly what he does in between starts -- is something the Red Sox take very seriously.
"The more we learn, the better we are," said Francona. "I think everybody understands that we're really in this together. We're just trying to learn as much as we can. We do it with everybody. We're doing it with [Curt Schilling] right now. This is obviously a little more cultural differences and we have a guy we didn't have. Everyone knows the background. We're just trying to learn as much as we can. That's probably the best way to say it."
Drew getting close: For the second day in a row, right fielder J.D. Drew was out of the lineup because of right hamstring woes. However, it's likely Drew will return for Monday night's game against the Royals.
After hustling out a double in the third inning of Friday's game, Drew began to feel his hamstring tugging at him.
"When [Dustin] Pedroia hits the ball to second, right behind me, and when I was running to third I could feel it," said Drew. "It didn't feel right. And [third-base coach] DeMarlo [Hale] asked me if something was going on. I said, 'Yeah, I feel like I pulled a hamstring.' Then Manny [Ramirez] singles me in. And after that I went down the tunnel tried to stretch. It was just grabbing too much."
Once again, Eric Hinske -- who belted a homer on Saturday night -- made the start in Drew's absence.
Pedroia rests up: Alex Cora took Pedroia's place on Sunday, batting second and playing second.
"Pedroia and Cora both went through the All-Star break, they were both sick the whole break," Francona said. "[Cora] is just feeling better. Pedroia, he's played ... it sounds silly coming off the break, but it looks like he needs a day off."
Schilling's mound work: Schilling will be back on the Fenway Park game mound, albeit in a simulated atmosphere, before Monday night's game. Schilling had a successful side session in the bullpen on Friday, and this will be his next step forward with an eye toward going on a rehab assignment in the near future.
"Tomorrow, he's going to taper the workout a little bit where he can throw two innings on the mound as opposed to a longer side and one inning," Francona said. "Same amount of pitches. Just facing hitters a little bit more. Just trying to get him a little bit more in the swing of things."
Coming up: Left-hander Kason Gabbard (2-0, 4.87 ERA) gets Monday night's start in the opener of a three-game series against the Royals. He'll be opposed by right-hander Brian Bannister (5-5, 3.71 ERA). First pitch at Fenway is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.