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Red Sox notebook

Some things up in the air

Once he gets to Denver, Francona faces decisions

The Red Sox will send their ace, Josh Beckett, to the mound tomorrow night at Fenway Park for Game 1 of the World Series, but how the rotation sets up from there remained classified information yesterday as the Sox wrapped up an optional workout.

"We'll have a meeting . . . with scouts, staff . . . and we'll get to those decisions," said manager Terry Francona, only some 14 hours after his charges clobbered the Indians, 11-2, in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. "There are some things we need to think about. It's a little bit rushed right now. It would be a little bit inappropriate."

Beckett is expected to be opposed by Rockies lefthander Jeff Francis, the pride of Vancouver, British Columbia. Francis carries the nickname "Boomer," a tag his parents gave him in honor of Montreal Canadiens great Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.

Among the things for Francona & Co. to consider in the days ahead: Where, if anywhere, to slot knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the rotation. If they weren't to hand him the ball for Game 2 at Fenway Thursday night, would they want him to serve up his soft tosses in Denver, where the thin air of the Mile High City might prove too compliant to his pitches? A knuckleball that doesn't dance too often ends up dancing with the stars.

Not to mention how to slot both David Ortiz and the hot-hitting Kevin Youkilis into the lineup for the games in Denver, where the Sox will have to abide by National League rules and go without a designated hitter.

"You're getting a little bit ahead," Francona cautioned. "Those are some things that we can look at today in our scouting report. We haven't had the luxury of sitting around for a week. We got done [Sunday] night at midnight, so we need some time to get our house in order."

General assessment

General manager Theo Epstein held an impromptu chat with a handful of reporters on the field, just a few feet from the newly painted World Series logo behind home plate.

Epstein, who continually praised Beckett for his skill and attitude, said he hoped that Japanese righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka could build off his rookie year the way Beckett rallied from a disappointing 2006.

"I feel like Daisuke's '07 season is analogous to Beckett's '06 season," said Epstein. "I think he's smart enough and gifted enough to take the lessons he's learned this year and make changes over the winter - and then take his game to an even higher level next year."

Messages received

Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who knocked in five runs in Game 7 (two on a seventh-inning homer), awoke yesterday to find no fewer than 39 text messages on his cellphone.

"It's a joke," said the good-natured Pedroia, a legit contender for AL Rookie of the Year. "People want to jump on my bandwagon, thinking they taught me how to hit or something."

Pedroia noted the Sox might have an edge against the Rockies because they'll go into the series with only two days of rest, but he also realizes that Colorado's long layoff allowed some of the Rockies to get over nagging injuries and end-of-season fatigue.

The 5-foot-9-inch Californian said his slow start with the bat this season was consistent with his record in Double and Triple A.

"It's not how you start," said Pedroia, who hit .182 for the first month of the season but ended the year at .317. "It's how you finish."

As for his overall game, the 24-year-old Pedroia added, "To be undersized and have people doubt you all the time, you have to have an edge to your game."

On alert

What, Jacoby Ellsbury worry? The rookie outfielder admitted to some jitters in Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS, but the butterflies weren't something he couldn't control.

"Yeah, I was a little nervous going into an unknown situation," said Ellsbury, "but I was ready for any situation they threw at me. Maybe I was more [nervous] in Game 7, but it's not a nervousness that I'm afraid - it's just about going into something unknown.

"I think I used it to my advantage. A little nervousness is good. It keeps you on your toes, keeps you alert."

Beating the rain?

The Sox will have the early workout today, a two-hour session that will wrap up at 3 p.m. The Rockies are scheduled to follow, but yesterday afternoon the grounds crew was told to anticipate rain later today, possibly affecting the National League champs' workout . . . Game 7 drew 19 million viewers on Fox and an 11.7 rating, making it the highest-rated LCS game since Game 7 between the Sox and Yankees in 2004. When the game ended at 11:55 Sunday night, 57 percent of households in the Boston area - and 86 percent of homes with the TV on - were tuned in . . . How does the occasional champagne shower affect Fenway's emerald turf? "I think it's wonderful," said Dave Mellor, in charge of everything green that grows inside Fenway's aged walls. "I think it's a wonderful challenge to have." . . . Because the infield and much of foul territory took a serious trampling in Sunday's postgame celebration, the grounds crew did not mow the lawn yesterday. They'll definitely trim it today, however, and perhaps again tomorrow prior to Game 1 . . . Epstein musing on his club's comeback from a two-game deficit in the ALCS: "How many teams can say they found their identity in the ALCS? We did, to a certain extent."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report; Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at

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