"We're hopeful he's going to play," Francona said. "He's really done a good job about keeping in touch with me. He called me last night."
"We have him in the lineup," he added. "I'm hopeful that he will play. But if in the next hour or two if we have to make a change, we will."
Starter switch: The sands are shifting under the Red Sox's rebuilt rotation. Francona called a late audible on starters Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, the latter making his return after a month-long rehabilitation from right-shoulder tendinitis.
Francona originally planned to start Schilling on Sunday in Seattle. Instead, Schilling will take the mound in Los Angeles on Monday, for the first game of a three-game set with the Angels.
"With the days off coming up, looking at the schedule a little bit more clearly, it just seemed to make a little bit of sense," Francona said.
Tommy John watch: The earliest Brendan Donnelly will be able to undergo ligament replacement surgery on his pitching arm is the end of next week, Francona said.
Donnelly is currently driving to Arizona. Once there, he'll fly to California to meet Dr. Lewis Yokum.
Also from the bullpen: Right-hander Mike Timlin, who has not pitched in more than a week with an "achy" shoulder, is ready to go. Timlin warmed up late on Wednesday night and was ready to enter the game against the Orioles. Once the Red Sox took a late lead, Francona brought in Hideki Okajima instead.
"They say [Timlin] felt fine when he was warming up," Francona said.
Lugo out: Shortstop Julio Lugo took a routine day off on Thursday after Wednesday's night game. At the conclusion of the series finale against Baltimore, the Red Sox will fly west. Getaway days, as they're called, are often used as opportunities to find rest for starters.
"We're just trying to keep everybody healthy and productive," Francona said. "It's a quick turnaround. It gives us an opportunity maybe later in the game if we want to pinch-run him."
Alex Cora, who started at shortstop, banged out one of Boston's three hits against the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie on Mother's Day, and who figured into the Red Sox's improbable six-run, ninth-inning rally to win.
"I've known the kid since Cleveland," said Cora of Guthrie, a one-time Indians prospect who has found new life in Baltimore. "He was just one of those guys who was waiting for a chance. He's been pitching real, real good, changing speeds. I think he's taken by heart whatever [Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone] is preaching over there."
"Hopefully," he added, "I can put together a few good at-bats, and make a difference in the game."
On deck: At 10:05 p.m. ET in Seattle, Jon Lester will take the hill against Horacio Ramirez in a battle between young lefties. Since making his triumphant return to the Majors from cancer treatment and rehab, Lester has started twice, winning in Cleveland and taking a no-decision against Tampa Bay. He has allowed six earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.