They’ll go easy on Doubront
Lefty feeling some tightness in elbow
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Perhaps a little wary of the season-ending elbow injury suffered Monday by Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright, the Red Sox yesterday shut down Felix Doubront for 10 days to two weeks after manager Terry Francona said the 23-year-old lefthander “exhibited a little bit of a tight elbow.’’
The manager said Doubront, who went 2-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 12 appearances last year, was examined and “everything structurally was fine.’’
“He’s had this before, and we’d rather not have him go 3-4 days and have him throw and nurse it through. He’s too young and potentially too good, that we would rather take the cautious approach.’’
With Doubront on the shelf, Francona expects to get reinforcements today in the form of righthander Alfredo Aceves and lefthander Dennys Reyes, who finally cleared up visa issues.
“Everything went well and they will be here [today] ready to go on the field,’’ Francona said.
Aceves had been in camp before returning to Mexico to clear up his visa issue, but the Sox have yet to see the 33-year-old Reyes throw.
“The hope would be that he’s been throwing a lot,’’ Francona said. “But not being in camp is certainly not an advantage. We’ll gauge where he is and how quickly he can get into it.’’
Grinding away Francona said there is one reason Kevin Youkilis is “one of the premier hitters in the league.’’
Despite being limited to 362 at-bats last season before undergoing thumb surgery in August, Youkilis logged healthy numbers: a .411 on-base percentage, a .564 slugging percentage, and a .307 batting average.
“He never gives away an at-bat, ever,’’ Francona said. “He grinds out every at-bat, which leads to not only him being a productive hitter, but how many times have you seen Youk have a long at-bat and the next guy comes up and get a pitch to handle, because the [pitcher] is frustrated?
“He just never gives an at-bat away. He grinds and he grinds and he grinds. He swings at strikes, plus he’s a really good hitter.’’
Asked if Youkilis had become a better hitter than Francona ever thought he could, the manager replied, “You don’t know. It’s certainly not to slight Kevin, but you just don’t know how good a guy’s going to get.
“He’s really taking it to another level. I don’t know if I can sit here and tell you in 2004 in spring training that we’d see him be our cleanup hitter, and be thrilled.’’
Crossing the tees Adrian Gonzalez continues to show improvement hitting off the tee. “He had 36 swings and he’ll do the same thing tomorrow,’’ Francona said. “He’ll build up volume as he goes and it’ll be in 2-3 increments, but he did real well.’’ Said Gonzalez, “It went good. As expected, there hasn’t been any setback at all. I’m going to take a few more and build up.’’ Asked what the plan was once that threshold was met, Gonzalez said, “Just keep doing the same thing, keep progressing and see how it feels the next couple of days hitting off the tee.’’ . . . When the Sox pack up for City of Palms Park tomorrow, in preparation for the exhibition doubleheader against Boston College (1 p.m.) and Northeastern (6 p.m.), righthanders Jason Bergmann, a nonroster invitee, and Junichi Tazawa will remain at the player development complex to continue rehab work. Bergmann, who spent the last six seasons with the Nationals, has experienced shoulder stiffness, while Tazawa is coming off Tommy John surgery. “Tazawa is certainly in a rehab program and Bergmann still has had a really good week,’’ Francona said. “But he’s still probably got more time with noncompetitive throwing and we’ll leave him down here where he can get some more one-on-one time with our strength and rehab guys.’’
Great expectations Dwight Evans made an appearance at the player development complex and offered a prediction: “Terry Francona will be one of the greatest — if not the greatest — managers in Red Sox history.’’ . . . Stolmy Pimentel, Michael Bowden, and Jason Rice are scheduled to pitch vs. the Eagles tomorrow afternoon, while Kyle Weiland, Alex Wilson, and Rich Hill will throw against the Huskies.
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.