Notes: Setting up the pitching staff

Notes: Setting up the pitching staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Tuesday's contest vs. the Pirates kicked off a run of five consecutive days of Grapefruit League games at City of Palms Park. And manager Terry Francona is paying close attention to the schedule these days, as crucial decisions await on his roster.

Specifically, the Red Sox manager, along with pitching coach John Farrell and general manager Theo Epstein, are trying to get an idea of which pitchers to take with the team to Japan.

The club is looking for as many innings as possible to evaluate the pitching staff and make decisions on pitchers such as Bryan Corey, Craig Hansen, David Aardsma, Javier Lopez and Dan Kolb.

The club played a "B" game on Monday against the Twins, in which Josh Beckett and five relievers saw action. Francona said the club is trying to see if they can play a similar game on Saturday, the same day the team has a contest against the Marlins in Fort Myers.

"We have the split-squad on Friday, and we were attempting to play a 'B' game on [Saturday]," Francona said. "Minnesota doesn't have the innings because they have a split-squad on Friday, and they're going to make some cuts on Sunday. We're checking with the Reds. I would assume early their answer would be 'No.' Maybe we'll bring some guys up from the Minor League complex and play a game here to facilitate our pitching."

The team has split-squad games on Friday -- at home against Minnesota and on the road against Baltimore.

The Red Sox will likely make their first roster cuts this weekend.

"Some of it may depend on what we can schedule this weekend," Francona said. "As long as we have innings, we're OK. When we run out of innings, then we have to think about doing things."

Francona said Daisuke Matsuzaka's expecting wife is also presenting a challenge right now, as the team tries to project who might the start the two exhibition games in Japan and the second game against Oakland on March 26. If he's available, Matsuzaka would start that contest.

"We don't know who's going to start Game 2 of our real [season]," Francona said. "That's a hard one for us. It's very, very personal stuff. He understands. We'll figure it out."

"It's one of those things you have to leave to nature," said Matsuzaka. "So I can't say one way or another right now. Of course, I'd like to go to Tokyo. I just hope that everyone can be happy."

Steady the course: Francona said Tuesday that, even after a very successful first bullpen session on Monday, it's almost certain that Bartolo Colon will not make his stated goal of pitching in a game on Sunday against the Dodgers.

"I think that's too quick," Francona said. "It just doesn't follow the progression that's built into normal throwing."

Colon threw 42 pitches -- all fastballs and changeups -- in an 11-minute session. Francona offered up the possibility that Colon could throw two more sides, then face hitters in batting practice.

"He did good," Francona said. "We want him to throw another side and face some hitters before he gets into a game. He's been very compliant, but he's champing at the bit. He looks like he's ready to start doing that stuff, but we want the progression to be the same as everybody else. There's a reason you do it like that, and we'll stay true to form there."

No decision has been made on whether Colon will accompany the team to Japan when it leaves two weeks from Wednesday. Colon could possibly pitch in one of the three exhibition games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles when the club returns from Tokyo.

"I don't know," Francona said. "Certainly a game in L.A. seems very reasonable, but that would be getting a little ahead."

Trainer's room: Julio Lugo (back) and Coco Crisp (groin) were both held out of Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh as a precaution.

"Lugo's back was a little tight," Francona said. "I'm sure he could play, but we're not going to. He'll play [Wednesday]. He's out doing other stuff."

Lugo's injury was not believed to be game-related, but Crisp apparently tweaked his groin in a game last weekend.

"[His] groin is a little tight and I'm sure he could play, too. But it just doesn't seem to make sense," Francona said. "One side was a little tender, and I think the other side got tender, maybe from favoring it."

Welcome back: Aside from starting pitcher Phil Dumatrait, Boston's first-round Draft pick in 2000, several Pirates with Red Sox roots made the trip down from Bradenton, Fla., for Tuesday's game. First-base coach Lou Frazier was Boston's outfield coordinator and base-running coordinator for the previous four seasons, while first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and designated hitter Freddy Sanchez were in the starting lineup for the Bucs.

Jimmy Fund visit: The Red Sox welcomed 35 young patients from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to Tuesday's game at City of Palms Park. The youngsters flew to Florida on Monday, and watched the game from a suite after visits with several Red Sox players.

Up next: Jon Lester makes his second spring start Wednesday, as the Cincinnati Reds visit City of Palms Park for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Lopez and Manny Delcarmen are also expected to see action. The Reds will counter with right-hander Homer Bailey, their top pitching prospect and a leading candidate for the No. 3 spot in their rotation. Edinson Volquez and Ramon Ramirez are scheduled to follow for Cincinnati.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.