In addition to the normal factors a manager must consider when laying out his starting rotation, this year Francona must also contemplate a potential birth.
Daisuke Matsuzaka's wife is due to give birth to the couple's second child in Boston the same day the team will be breaking camp. While Francona would like to have Matsuzaka with the club, if the pitcher decides to be with his family it will be with the club's blessing.
"I think we're hopeful that he'll be able to pitch over there," Francona said, "at the same time recognizing that if any little thing doesn't go right, he has our not only permission but our, 'Hey, do what you got to do.'
"I think [the due date is] the 19th, but again, that's not perfect. But if it works out, there are a couple of things. If it works, he can come over. It'll be good. But he has our blessing to have a baby first."
If the Matsuzakas' baby has not arrived before March 19, Francona said it was unlikely the pitcher would travel with the team.
"It doesn't look like [he'd travel with the team]," Francona said. "I'd be surprised if that works out that way."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.