Francona likes Adrian Gonzalez rehab

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox knew Adrian Gonzalez would be a bit behind schedule once he arrived at his first spring training with his new organization due to his offseason shoulder surgery.

But Red Sox manager Terry Francona was thrilled to learn that his newest slugging first baseman began to play catch this week and should be ready for Opening Day.

"He'll be behind everybody else, for sure," Francona said. "That will be important, when we get down to spring training, to get a gauge on where he is because there's going to be so much excitement with him being here. He's going to be excited. We're going to be excited and we don't want to set him back.

"If he's a little bit slower than everybody else, that's not the end of the world. We certainly want him playing, but we want him playing healthy."

The Red Sox acquired Gonzalez from the Padres last month in exchange for prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later (Eric Patterson).

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.