"I think he's taken enough heat from everybody else that if we lose, he'll wear it," said Francona. "I'll take our chances."
The five-game winning streak the Red Sox rode into Wednesday night's game at Jacobs Field began the night Ortiz tumbled into second base and injured the shoulder.
Ortiz said that he still feels a little pinch in the shoulder but seemed confident it would not be an issue.
"Yeah, I'm getting there," he said. "I felt good taking BP. I haven't faced live pitching, but hopefully, it will stay the same way."
Lowell, Lugo rest: Just as Ortiz came back in the lineup, third baseman Mike Lowell and shortstop Julio Lugo were both given the night off. Kevin Youkilis moved across the diamond and played third, Eric Hinske batted eighth and played first base, and Cora hit ninth and started at short.
Part of the thinking was that Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona entered the night holding righties to a .245 average, whereas lefties were hitting him at a .290 clip. Including switch-hitters, Francona had six lefties in the lineup.
"Yeah, I told Lowell he could take his pick tonight or Friday, in Tampa, because he's going to take one or the other," Francona said. "We actually told Lugo kind of the same thing. [We] wanted to get every left-handed bat we have. And also mixing in the rest and keeping guys fresh."
Pineiro starts over: As it turns out, Joel Pineiro will remain with the Red Sox organization -- at least for now. Two days after being designated for assignment, Pineiro accepted an option to the Minor Leagues rather than waiting eight more days and becoming a free agent.
In fact, Pineiro started for Triple-A Pawtucket in Thursday's game at Toledo, where he was slated to go three innings.
The Red Sox are going to allow Pineiro to build his arm strength back up in the Minors so he can get back to his preferred role of starting, though he's highly unlikely to fill that role in Boston. But perhaps it will make him more attractive to other teams.
"He's trying to get starter's innings built up," Francona said. "Next time, maybe go four or five, depending on pitch count and see where that leads to. That's probably about the most I can give you."
Before becoming a full-time reliever for the Red Sox this season, Pineiro had almost always been a starter, though he did finish last season in the Seattle bullpen.
"I think starting is kind of in his heart, which I understand. We all do," said Francona.
Schilling ready for seconds: Curt Schilling will make his second Minor League rehab start on Thursday, when he pitches for Pawtucket in a game at Toledo.
Francona expects Schilling to throw between 60 and 65 pitches.
"Get up and down as many times as he can," he said. "The more times he gets up and down, the better."
Though the Red Sox haven't announced what Schilling will do after Thursday's start, he's all but certain to pitch again at the Minor League level.
"We know what we're going to do. We haven't announced it yet," Francona said. "I think, regardless of what I say, I think you have to use some common sense, that he needs to pitch. We did this for a reason, so whenever he comes back and starts, he can take the ball every five days and have a chance to take the ball and be strong. So we're not going to rush."
On deck: Left-hander Kason Gabbard (4-0, 2.97 ERA) will try to continue his recent role when he takes the ball against fellow southpaw Cliff Lee (5-7, 5.95) in Thursday's finale of this four-game series. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.