Without any help, Bobby Valentine likely would have reached the same conclusion about which pitcher should be the Red Sox' Opening Day starter.

But Josh Beckett made it even easier for him.

During a 21/2-hour, face-to-face meeting on New Year's Day at Beckett's ranch in Texas, the senior member of the Red Sox rotation told his new manager that Jon Lester deserved to pitch the season opener April 5 in Detroit. Beckett brought it up, and Valentine was relieved to hear him say it.

A few days ago, Valentine informed Lester of the decision, and before yesterday's game at JetBlue Park, the Red Sox made it official.