BALTIMORE — Jarrod Saltalamacchia feels like he could start, but admitted his right shoulder was "pretty sore" after taking that foul tip off it last night.
So Ryan Lavarnway will start his first major league game behind the plate. He has nine innings of big league experience.
"If we start Ryan in the first place, he's good against lefthanded pitching and [Erik] Bedard is going to call his own game, anyway," Terry Francona said. "We can go to Salty later. Hopefully he has a chance to maybe loosen up, rather than the other way around."
Jason Varitek [right knee] never made an appearance in the clubhouse.
"He tried to kind of give it a go yesterday," Francona said. "He's probably paying the price for that today. We'll see how he loosens up, but he's pretty sore."
Lavarnay said he felt prepared for the assignment, having caught Bedard several times in the bullpen in recent weeks.
"I'm real excited. I've worked with Erik in the bullpen a couple of times. It should be a good game," Lavarnway said. "He throws a lot of strikes. He's not afraid to attack hitters."
Lavarnay has been working every day with the catchers and catching instructor Gary Tuck to improve his skills as a receiver.
"It's helped me fall into a rhythm. There's more expected of you so there's a lot more to do. It takes a little while to get into a daily routine that you like," he said. "Being around here for a while has helped me do that. ... I feel very prepared."
Bedard essentially calls his own game. That made it easier to start Lavarnway.
"[Saltalamacchia] got hit pretty hard. Because of who's pitching and because of Tek being nicked up, too, I think this makes sense for us," Francona said.
• The play-in game on Thursday would be at 4:07 p.m. at St. Petersburg. The first game of the Division Series (in Texas or Detroit) would be Friday at 5:07 p.m. Both games would be on TBS.
• Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino flew in from Boston for the game.
• Francona said he had no idea who his starter would be for Thursday if one were needed. Candidates would include Tim Wakefield, John Lackey, Kyle Weiland and Afredo Aceves. In theory, they could trade for somebody.
• Clay Buchholz will go back to Florida to pitch on Wednesday. That would not preclude him from the playoff roster.
• Jed Lowrie admitted to being a little surprised at his place in the lineup. "That's what Tito's asked me to do, so that's what I'm going to do," he said.
Lowrie last hit cleanup in Class A. "I'm not a prototypical four-hole hitter. Gotta do what you gotta do," he said.
• Dan Wheeler (forearm) and Scott Atchison (groin) are not expected to be ready for either of the next two days.