Lester to start Opening Day, Beckett gets home opener


Lester to start Opening Day, Beckett gets home opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine tabbed lefty Jon Lester as the Red Sox' Opening Day starter for April 5 in Detroit, marking thesecond straight season that Lester has opened the season on themound.

Lester got the nod over Josh Beckett, who recommended to Valentinethat Lester be the choice. That conversation took place on New Year'sDay.

Beckett will pitch the second game of the season on April 7 and isthen lined up on to pitch the home opener against Tampa Bay on April 13.

"I think the No. 1 determinant was the conversation I had withJosh,'' said Valentine, "where Josh explained to me about starting pitchersand their Opening Day status or mentality or whatever. He thought Jonearned the job last year and didn't do anything to lose it. And so Isaid, 'You have a lot more knowledge of Opening Day starters and theirmentality than I.'

"I saw the health of both of them. It's an honor both ways --the home opener and the opener. So they're both getting an honor.''

Lester becomes the first lefty to start consecutive Opening Days since Mel Parnell did so from 1952-1954.

Despite the interest in the topic, Valentine was unsure of howimportant the decision was.

"It's hard for me to say how much (that means),'' he said. "But I'msure there are varying degrees of what it means. The first game of the All-Star break is an important start. Because you pitch the first game of the season, it doesn't mean that you're going to line up to pitch the first game of the playoffs. I don't believe in that stuff, either.

"And I definitely don't believe that the No. 1 starter (always) lines up against the other team's No. 1 starter. I don't think that hasany validity. It's just a nice thing to plan and do.''

Valentine said Beckett introduced the topic of Opening Day starterwhen they spoke.

"It was great information,'' said Valentine. "It was like, 'Gosh,I'm glad I don't have to worry about this throughout spring training' andall that stuff. I was pleasantly surprised, I guess.''

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”