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Francona mulls Opening Day lineup options

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Deep down, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona said here Saturday morning, he has an idea of what the Red Sox Opening Day lineup should look like. But there are still enough variables, he said, that he’s not prepared to unveil it just yet.

Complicating matters, he said, is the fact that the Rangers are starting tough lefty C.J. Wilson, the type of pitcher who would incline him to opt for a different look, like having Jacoby Ellsbury batting ninth instead of leadoff. But he hasn’t decided yet if that’s what he wants to do.

“It’s pretty obvious,’’ Francona said. “Jacoby is swinging the bat, we’ll lead him off. Dustin [Pedroia] and Carl [Crawford] second and third, maybe they’re interchangeable. Youk [Kevin Youkilis] and Gonzy [Adrian Gonzalez] are probably interchangeable.’’

Having Gonzalez hitting fifth, though, would leave Francona with a lineup that potentially would have three lefthanded hitters in a row: Gonzalez, David Ortiz and J.D. Drew. Still, when asked if Gonzalez would most likely hit fourth, Francona said: “I don’t know, him or Youk.

“This next 10 days, you’ll see our lineup in home games two, three, four times I would say.’’

A few other tidbits from Francona Saturday:

* Nate Spears, the local kid from Port Charlotte, will stay with the club through the rest of camp, even though he won’t make the club, and may even accompany the team to Houston for the game there when the club leaves Florida.

“He plays everywhere,’’ Francona said, “and he’s about the best kid ever. Theo [Epstein] is OK with that, and Houston is a possibility. That would be, we hope, kind of a reward. Great kid.’’

* The Sox are playing just one exhibition in Houston as the second was canceled because it would conflict with regular-season openers elsewhere. The Sox are working out in Houston on Thursday morning before traveling to Arlington for the regular-season opener, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch a simulated game there.

* Tim Wakefield is scheduled to start a minor-league game Thursday. Comcast Sports New England, citing sources, reported that Wakefield is assured of a roster spot when camp breaks.

* Gonzalez is tentatively scheduled to DH in a minor-league game Wednesday and lead off four or five innings.

* Staff member Ino Guerrero, who had been experiencing shoulder discomfort, had an adverse reaction to a nerve block injection and was taken to the hospital Friday. He was kept overnight.

* Francona gestured to second baseman Dustin Pedroia: "Look at Pedey. Tell me he doesn’t look like the Pirate Parrot. Same profile.''

Pedroia, knowing he was the topic of discussion, shot back: "What's he saying? The only manager who's got batting gloves on."