Francona said third baseman Mike Lowell -- still recovering from surgery to his right hip -- could return to the lineup within the next two or three days, and shortstop Jed Lowrie -- out since undergoing left wrist surgery in May -- will likely be activated from the disabled list on Saturday.
"We certainly have some decisions to make," Francona said, transcribed by The Boston Globe. "And [general manager] Theo [Epstein] and I have talked a bunch about this; I don't think that's any secret. One, to get [Clay] Buchholz [to start Friday's game], and then there could be two that day. We're either going to activate Mikey Lowell on Friday or Saturday, and also Lowrie most likely on Saturday.
"Not having Mike Lowell was tough for us. We moved [Kevin Youkilis] over to third, and I hope people understand how easy my job is because Youk can do that."
Francona said if Lowrie is activated on Saturday, the shortstop likely won't be at 100 percent yet, so he won't be playing every day.
"We can use our shortstops -- and again, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself here -- we can use who we have and also give Jed a day built in, in between," said Francona, whose team is 54-34 and three games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. "That's probably going to be the best of both worlds."
When asked about starters Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield not being used in Tuesday's All-Star Game -- won by the AL, 4-3 -- Francona said he didn't have a problem with how Rays manager Joe Maddon used the AL's roster.
"I don't doubt that Joe probably did a really good job of communicating with everybody," Francona said. "And it's especially hard in a National League city because you have the pitcher coming up. I bet you that game was going 100 miles an hour.
"As a fan of Wakefield or the Red Sox, you're always going to want to see everything cater to our guys, and I'm probably in that boat, too. But I think as a representative of the American League, I thought they pulled it off really well."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less