"The hardest thing for us is not having [Carlos] Santana, because a lot of things go through the catcher," Francona said. "In saying that, it has opened up a lot of room for guys to play. [Yan] Gomes has gotten to play a lot, but every team has to deal with [losing players to the World Baseball Classic.]"
In addition to Santana, who is catching for the Dominican Republic, Asdrubal Cabrera (Venezuela), Mike Aviles (Puerto Rico), Vinnie Pestano (USA) and Giovanni Soto (Puerto Rico) are participating in the Classic.
Some managers worry about sending pitchers away during Spring Training, either because the pitchers' arms may not be ready for intense situations or because they will not get their work in, but that does not seem to be the case for Pestano.
"He warmed up in the fourth, he warmed up in the fifth and he pitched in the sixth, so that would be a no," Francona said when asked if he was concerned Pestano wouldn't get to pitch. "To this point, he's been on a real good schedule."
In his one inning during USA's 5-2 loss to Mexico, Pestano retired the side in order and recorded one strikeout.
Of the group, Santana is the only one to have played in two games. He is 1-for-5 with two RBIs, a home run and four walks as the Dominican Republic has posted a 2-0 record.
Aviles and Cabrera are a combined 0-for-5, with an RBI (Aviles) and a run scored (Cabrera).
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.