FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While it just became public knowledge, Josh Beckett has known for some time his position in the pecking order of the Red Sox rotation. Shoot, Jon Lester said he found out in a text message from Terry Francona while deer hunting over the winter, so you can be sure Beckett was not kept in the dark for long, either.
(Interesting, isn’t it, that not a single starter broke ranks this spring when asked about the rotation. They all toed the company line and said they didn’t know a thing about it. OK.)
Beckett, who pitched the Sox opener in each of the last two seasons and was scratched from the 2008 opening assignment because of back problems, said he took no issue with Lester drawing the opening nod.
"Just like I would always feel like he would back me up,’’ Beckett said, “I back him up on his decision, as well."
That goes for being slotted No. 4, too, he said.
"It is what it is,’’ Beckett said. “I don't get paid to make those decisions. Tito makes those decisions. I don't want that job. I never want that job. I'll let him make those decisions and I'll go out and do the best I can to put us in the best position to win."
Francona said the Sox based their decision in part so that Beckett’s first start comes against the Indians, instead of against the AL defending champion Rangers, because the team wants to create the best possible circumstances for Beckett to get off to a fast start.
Beckett had a 7.22 ERA in five April starts last season. He said he appreciated the gesture, noting that he got off to a bad start in 2009, then ran off a three- or four-month stretch in which he pitched what he believed to be the best baseball of his career.
He lauded the choice of Lester to pitch the opener, and said it probably was only a matter of time that Clay Buchholz gets his shot, too.
"It's a body of work,’’ Beckett said. “It's not just a one-time deal. It's a sacred thing. It's a real cool honor to have, especially with an organization like this. It's something nobody can take away from him.’’