"I think it's like one of those things where a guy gets to 200 innings," Francona said. "It sort of validates what you did over the course of the season. But when you really look at it, there's no difference [come postseason]. It sort of puts a little bit of a stamp on what you did over the long haul."
The Red Sox chose Division Series schedule B, which means they'll open the postseason against the Angels on Wednesday instead of Thursday. After a day off, Game 2 will be on Friday at Fenway. The series shifts to Anaheim for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) on Sunday and Monday. A winner-take-all Game 5 would be on Oct. 10 in Boston.
"You know what, I talked to [general manager] Theo [Epstein] about it a few times," Francona said. "It wasn't something to me that was probably going to make a difference. We had a choice so we took the first game [Wednesday]. We don't have to wait three days, and there's a day off in between. It's going to be the same for both teams regardless of when you play. It really wasn't anything that any of us were losing a whole lot of sleep over."
With the way the Division Series B schedule is set up, the Red Sox, if they choose, could go with a three-man rotation in which ace Josh Beckett and October veteran Curt Schilling could each pitch twice if they had to.
"But I'm not sure we wouldn't have had flexibility anyway," said Francona. "Again, whenever you play it's going to be the same for both teams. I was getting a piece of pizza when Theo called me so, again, when we play ... more important to me is how we play."
Speaking of the pitching rotation, the Red Sox still had nothing to announce. Not even the choice of Cy Young Award candidate Beckett for Game 1 has been made official.
"We need to sit down and get through today, go through our workouts tomorrow, talk to the training staff, and we will do all that later," Francona said. "[We're] just not ready to do that."
Not only will the rotation benefit from the less taxing schedule, but also the bullpen.
"The fact we have the format where we're playing every [other] day helps our bullpen and anyone, I would assume, who had the opportunity to make that decision would make the same one," said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. "We feel with our usage of [Jonathan] Papelbon throughout the season and the way [Hideki] Okajima finished the year, it gives us that day of rest in between. And it allows the No. 1 starter to come back on normal rest."
American League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||6:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||3 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||9:30 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||6:30 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||6:30 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||6 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
Ortiz feeling better: Not only did designated hitter David Ortiz get a rare day off on Saturday, but he got a cortisone shot for the right knee that has ailed him all year.
"I'll tell you what, these past couple of weeks, I was hurting really bad," Ortiz said. "Yesterday was the day that I talked to the manager and asked for a day off. [I] got a cortisone shot and woke up feeling good today. Hopefully it stays like that because walking into the playoffs, you have to bring everything you've got."
Left fielder Manny Ramirez is also coming around in his return from a strained right oblique that kept him out of the lineup for 24 games before his return on Tuesday.
"I think that for where we got, we're in the best position we could be," said Francona. "He's played five in a row, feels pretty good. Yeah, for missing a month, I think we're doing OK."
Ellsbury starts in right: For the first time all season, Jacoby Ellsbury started a game in right field. If J.D. Drew was still slumping, this might have raised eyebrows. But Drew has been on fire of late. Instead, this was a way of getting Ellsbury some looks in right in case the Red Sox need him there for any reason in October.
Because of injuries to Ramirez and Coco Crisp, Ellsbury basically served as an everyday player throughout September.
With the troops regaining their health, Francona doesn't view it as a dilemma, even as well as Ellsbury has played.
"It's not a dilemma at all," Francona said. "We will always have somebody available who can do something to help us win a game. That's good, that's real good."
Ellsbury is just looking forward to being a part of things.
"Kind of the same role I've had all year. Come to the yard and if I'm in the lineup, prepare. If I'm not, prepare the same way," said Ellsbury. "At the start of the year if you had told me I'd be on the postseason roster, I probably wouldn't have believed you, but I've worked real hard to get to this point. It's very exciting."
Workout plans: The Red Sox will hold a very informal optional workout on Monday. They'll have a standard workout on Tuesday in advance of Wednesday's Division Series opener.
"Some guys need to see the trainer, a couple of guys need to throw [on Monday]," said Francona. "We're telling them we'll be here. We don't want it where guys feel obligated to come in."
The key part of Monday from an organizational standpoint will come after the workout when the Red Sox hold their scouting meeting on the Angels.
"Tomorrow's a big day for us," said Francona. "And [the scouts] have been grinding it out for a while now. There's been guys out all over the place. There's a lot of hours that go into this. Again, it doesn't mean you're going to win, it doesn't mean you're going to lose, but it gives you a comfort level going in that you've covered everything, and as a staff, we need to be prepared. And we will."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less