FORT MYERS, Fla. -- He won't be upstaging Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is scheduled to make his first spring start tonight against Boston College, but Manny Ramírez's spring debut is scheduled to come this afternoon, in an exhibition against the Blue Jays.
"You know what, I was sitting there doing the lineups yesterday getting dizzy, and I had a question mark by his name," manager Terry Francona said. "We had a home game the next day. Rather than guess, I walked out and said, 'Hey, [Manny], Friday?' He said, 'Yeah, I'm fine.' I just didn't want to get him out there before he's ready. Even if it's one at-bat, [but] I would imagine he'd get a couple."
Francona tried to downplay the significance of Matsuzaka's start, saying what he'll be watching for most is how Matsuzaka and catcher Jason Varitek communicate.
"We want to get to the point where we don't let that get in the way of us winning a game," Francona said.
Matsuzaka already seems to be grasping the language perhaps more than he lets on.
"I think he gets it," Francona said. "By 'it,' it's not the language, but he understands what's going on here, and he's a pretty smart kid."
Josh Beckett, who whiffed five in two innings in an 11-0 win over Northeastern yesterday, said like most of his teammates, he won't be there to witness Matsuzaka. With the team also playing Toronto this afternoon, much of the team will have worked out in the morning and left by the time Matsuzaka pitches.
"You watch him play catch and it's almost like the same thing as when I played catch last year with [Jonathan] Papelbon, and you notice that he's just got that little something different about the ball that comes out of his hand," Beckett said. "Daisuke's got that also. He's got unbelievable backspin. That's going to help him be effective up in the zone and down in the zone as well."
He pitched well enough last season to suggest there would be clubs that would claim him. Depending on the interest in Snyder, the Sox could try to trade him if he doesn't win a spot on the roster. The other four players on the roster who are out of options -- Curt Schilling, Alex Cora, Doug Mirabelli, and Wily Mo Peña -- are all locks to make the 25-man roster.
Beckett acknowledged he's at a different point in his career.
"Certainly, I think this year is the start of a new chapter," he said. "I thought last year was a new chapter, too. I'm kind of settling in here, Tito and the team expect this from me, to help lead some of the younger guys through the part of their careers that I just went through.
"We have veteran leadership, but it's more of a middle guy role they want me to step into, with Papelbon, Daisuke, help them make that transition. I think one thing I'm going to try to relay to them is that being a starter in the major leagues is very difficult, unless you get in a routine and stick with that routine."