OAKLAND -- Red Sox reliever Kyle Snyder and A's third baseman Eric Chavez have not always been adversaries. It seems like only yesterday they were teammates on a national high school showcase team.

"You always pay attention to guys you played with and competed against," Snyder said before Tuesday night's game against the A's. "You start to get to know guys who are regarded as pro prospects. Ultimately, I'm competing against them 10 years down the road. Of course, you remember those guys. They're tough to forget."

Chavez, of course, reunited his acquaintance with Snyder with a walk-off home run in the 11th inning on Monday night. The next day things looked a lot brighter. Snyder's alma mater North Carolina advanced in NCAA baseball action with a ninth-inning rally and will host South Carolina in a Super Regional this weekend.

"The ACC is very good," Snyder said. "At the time we had nine teams in the league and we'd get seven or eight of them into the tournament. It's tough to do since we were always beating each other. But we had the strength of schedule."

Snyder pitched in a regional at Stanford in 1999, which also featured future Major League pitchers Barry Zito, Jason Young, Justin Wayne, Tony Cogan and Mike Bynum.

"It's cool with the relationships you develop," Snyder said. "That was a special time and you see them reach the Majors and hope for the opportunity to join them."

Chavez and Snyder played together in 1995, when both were juniors in high school -- Chavez from San Diego, Snyder from Florida. Snyder also knew Zito before he had signed at USC when both played in the Cape Cod League (along with Ben Sheets) in the summer of 1998.

"I keep tabs on all the guys I've seen pitch and play," Snyder said. "[Zito] was the first guy to make it from my draft class [of 1999], and you looked at the potential for the rest of us."

Snyder went to the Kansas City Royals as the seventh overall pick; two spots ahead of Zito.

Now pitching: Left-hander Jon Lester will make at least one more rehab start with the Pawtucket Red Sox on Saturday night against the Ottawa Lynx.

Right-hander Mike Timlin, meanwhile, will throw no more than one inning for the PawSox when they travel to the Richmond Braves on Thursday. He could be activated by Saturday.

"I know he wants to be back yesterday," manager Terry Francona said. "But we want to follow a schedule."

Now batting: The starting pitchers have begun their annual hitting program leading up to a 15-game stretch of Interleague Play, which begins Friday night in Arizona against the D-backs.

During Boston's last homestand, the pitchers began swinging a bat, using a tee to define the strike zone. They progressed to soft toss and have just begun taking early batting practice with hitting coach Dave Magadan pressed into service as the pitcher.

"At some point someone in baseball has to step up and say this is not right," said Francona. "It's not right. We're not playing our team. David Ortiz is our designated hitter and you're asking us to play a handful of games without him."

Ortiz will likely see some action at first base during the stretch of games in National League ballparks, but that still doesn't sit well with Francona.

"Somebody has to sit we don't want to sit," he said. "It will be somebody who is a real good hitter."

Drew's clue: Right fielder J.D. Drew was out of the lineup again on Tuesday night, the third time in four games. This time his injury was not the reason.

"We're facing a couple of lefties, and he's obviously been struggling," Francona said. "And Wily Mo [Pena] is swinging the bat good. I decided to give Drew a night to get his feet under him."

Francona also said there were a number of factors which affected his decision to use Jason Varitek as a pinch-hitter for Drew on Monday.

"That's not going to happen very often," Francona said. "Varitek is a very good right-handed hitter, and he was available. That doesn't happen often either."

Catch-22: As Monday night's game wore on, and the Red Sox without a catcher available after Varitek pinch-hit in the ninth, Francona may have found himself in an interesting situation had something happened to Doug Mirabelli.

Just who would have caught?

"Me," deadpanned Francona. "We would have figured it out."

Francona decided to play for the win in regulation rather than play it safe when he sent Varitek up to pinch-hit. It worked out both ways for the Red Sox. Varitek helped the Red Sox rally with an RBI single, and Mirabelli finished the game behind the plate.

"I guarantee someone would have volunteered," Francona said. "I saw Wakefield looking for his spikes. He was ready to help out."

Up next: With Tim Wakefield (5-6, 4.24 ERA) on the mound, you never know what to expect. The veteran knuckleballer makes his first against Oakland since Sept. 16, 2005. He'll be facing left-hander Joe Kennedy, who last started against the Red Sox on -- you might have guessed it -- Sept. 16, 2005. Game time is 10:05 p. m. ET.