FORT MYERS, Fla. — Until Terry Francona holds an endless schedule of meetings, he’s not ready to announce his starting rotation for the season that begins in nine days.

Francona wouldn’t even announce his opening-day starter, although he indirectly let a name slip from his lips:

Josh Beckett.

Francona said none of his major-league pitchers will throw in the April 3 exhibition at Washington, the day before the night opener at Fenway, although the whole team will be there.

“Everybody will go with us, even Beckett,” Francona said.

The only reason for Francona to single out Beckett is because he would be starting April 4, and the next day’s starter often skips the game before if he has to travel.

Francona laughed when asked why he singled out Beckett.

Of course, Beckett is the obvious choice. Although Jon Lester and John Lackey may be considered co-aces, Beckett has the experience and Boston tenure to deserve the ball April 4.

But setting the rotation will be tricky. Francona did say that Daisuke Matsuzaka “won’t be there for the first couple of weeks, for sure.” Because of injuries, Matsuzaka didn’t pitch in a major-league spring training game until Thursday.

That leaves Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz.

But Boston won’t need five starters, not with three days off in the first 10 days of the season.

“The first 10 days of the season with those days off I just want to make sure that we have a plan in place, and then a second plan in place in case of weather, and then we’ll talk to our guys,” Francona said, explaining the lack of news on the rotation.

 

JORGE JIMENEZ walked into the City of Palms clubhouse Thursday and looked confused.

“Where’s my locker?” he said jokingly.

Jimenez, the Sea Dogs’ third baseman the past two years, is back with the Red Sox organization after spending most of spring training with the Florida Marlins.

Jimenez, 24, batted .289 for Portland last year. He was scooped up in the Rule V draft in the offseason by Florida.

If the Marlins wanted to keep Jimenez, they had to keep him on their 25-man major-league roster. He got only 18 at-bats in spring training with three hits.

“I was a little upset about that,” Jimenez said. “With 18 at-bats, you can’t show what you can do.

“But it was good to be there. I did my best. And now I’m back.”

Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Jimenez was a darkhorse to make the club.

“We just couldn’t carry him on the roster,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard to carry a player like that on a National League team. You’ve got to play him.

“He’s a good player. Nice hands and a heck of an arm.”

Jimenez likely will end up in Pawtucket.

 

FREDI GONZALEZ was one of the three former Sea Dogs managers at City of Palms Park. There was Ron Johnson (2003-04) coaching first base for the Red Sox, Marlins bench coach Carlos Tosca (1994-96) and Gonzalez (1997).

Gonzalez, a Miami native, is beginning his fourth season as manager of the Marlins.

“There are only 30 (managing) jobs in the major leagues and I get to do it in my hometown,” he said.

 

HUNTER JONES, the former Dogs pitcher traded to Florida in the Jeremy Hermida deal, was sent down to Triple-A on Tuesday.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]