Doubront on fast track
Lefthander will debut vs. Dodgers
There was a good reason for Terry Francona to pay attention to lefthander Felix Doubront this spring. As the Red Sox manager said yesterday in announcing Doubront would take Daisuke Matsuzaka’s start tomorrow against the Dodgers, “John Farrell loves him, absolutely loves him. When he says that, that gets my attention. He’s been on this kid since the first side he saw him throw.’’
So just four starts into his Triple A career, Doubront will head to Fenway Park for his first major league start. He had an impressive showing with Double A Portland (4-0, 2.51 ERA) before being promoted to Pawtucket (2-1, 1.08). He spent some time on the disabled list, though that was mostly to limit his innings, and he has not pitched since June 7.
But his strong fastball, especially coming from a southpaw, got the attention of the coaching staff.
“Those type of prospects are very bright,’’ Farrell said, referring to power lefties. “Where they don’t have to rely on hitters going outside the zone, chasing pitches to get themselves out, and even when they come to the major leagues and they find that the strike zone can be smaller and the reluctance of a hitter to chase more is less than what he might have experienced on the way to the major league level.
“So when you factor those things in with his abilities, he’s got a very bright future, and we’re all looking forward to seeing him.’’
In addition to the fastball, Doubront throws a curveball and changeup. Of the still-developing curveball, Farrell said, “In spring training, with the added adrenaline, it’s created some increased arm speed where the pitch has tightened up. But I think most importantly, how he controls his adrenaline will be the biggest key.’’
The Sox have so far been impressed with how Doubront has coped with the opportunities presented, including pitching to major leaguers in spring training. The fact he is able to get outs with his fastball and didn’t back away from contact were clues to his abilities, Farrell said.
But that’s not going to be easy tomorrow, especially for a 22-year-old. The Sox understand that there will be adrenaline and emotion, and are looking to see how he can handle that. No matter how he pitches, though, it’s clear that the Sox are salivating at the prospect of being able to pair their current power lefty (Jon Lester) with another arm that could be in that mold.
“When you see a lefthander who’s [6 feet 3 inches] who can throw the ball in the low 90s, that’s a lot of good things to start with,’’ Farrell said.
Because of his inexperience, the Sox will likely leave the pitch calling to the catcher.
He won’t, however, give the Celtics or coach Doc Rivers any help.
“I don’t know the difference between zone defense and man-to-man,’’ Francona said. “He doesn’t need advice. They know what they’re doing. They win or lose, they know what they’re doing. I think perspective is probably a word that’s not well used around here. You’ve got a team that they’re playing for the championship of the world. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment in itself.
“It’s exciting. [Tonight’s] a big night. There are a lot of cities that are very envious I would think of where the Celtics are. I think people maybe lose sight of how enjoyable the journey can be. You don’t have to wait till it’s over to enjoy it.’’