Francona not sweating schedule

Francona not sweating schedule

TORONTO -- Unlike a year ago, when the Red Sox finished with the best record in the American League and got to pick which schedule they wanted in the American League Division Series, manager Terry Francona could be at the mercy of Angels manager Mike Scioscia this time around.

If the Red Sox enter the postseason as the Wild Card, they will face the Angels, who will likely have the best record.

There is one big difference between Division Series A and B. The team that has the B series would open on Wednesday and have a day off between Games 1 and 2. What that means, in essence, is that the teams playing in that series could pitch their top two starters twice on regular rest if it went five games.

Perhaps the Angels would pick the A Series, so that the Red Sox can't pitch Josh Beckett and Jon Lester twice. Whatever ends up happening, Francona is pleased that another manager will have to make that decision this year.

"I'm glad," Francona said. "I couldn't figure out what was right last year. We went over it and over it. I didn't know. I wish we had the best record [this year], because that would mean [we played the best] but I don't [care about picking]. Good luck. Because I couldn't figure out what was best for anybody. You know what it comes down to? Whoever plays better. I tried to figure out last year. I tired to figure out this year. [Let them] go pick."

Last year, the Red Sox picked the B series, but it wound up not mattering when they swept the Angels in three straight.

With the postseason starting a week from Wednesday at the earliest, Francona doesn't expect to have to make any changes to his rotation in the final week of the regular season.

Beckett is lined up for Monday against the Indians and Saturday against the Yankees. Lester will make his last start of the season on Thursday against Cleveland. Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch Friday against New York. Tim Wakefield is pitching Tuesday vs. Cleveland and in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Yankees. Paul Byrd will take the ball on Wednesday vs. the Indians.

"We have it set up how we have it set up for a reason," Francona said. "I guess we reserve the right to make changes if we want to. I don't anticipate doing that unless, again, [there's] a health issue. There's a reason we did it like we did it and I think we're comfortable. We're more apt to maybe short a guy than change the days. But, if we decide to make a change, we can always do that, but I don't think so."

And while the Red Sox could be at the mercy of their opponent when it comes to the schedule, Francona is prepared for anything.

"We've talked about every scenario, I think, out there," Francona said. "There's just no reason to make a playoff roster or a schedule when we're not in yet. Believe me, we've looked at everything. And we will continue to. There's got to be a balance of us preparing and also, at the same time, not getting ahead of ourselves with [the media] and the players even. There's a proper time to do everything."

The Red Sox can clinch a playoff berth if they win on Sunday against the Blue Jays and the Yankees lose their last game at Yankee Stadium -- a Sunday night game against the Orioles.

Just don't expect Francona to wait up for the end of that one. After a week on the road, the Red Sox are traveling back to Boston following their game on Sunday.

"I'll be asleep," said Francona.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.