Red Sox's Doubront Seeks Consistency, Health





BOSTON—Lefthander Felix Doubront appeared to be on the cusp of a permanent place in the big leagues in 2010, showing swing-and-miss stuff in brief stints as both a starter and reliever. The Sox envisioned him as a potentially important member of their big league bullpen in 2011, with the added benefit that he could shift into the rotation if injuries hit.

The Sox indeed were desperate down the stretch for starters, but Doubront was not positioned to contribute in that role during a season marred by three minor injuries.

He went through elbow stiffness in spring training, which left him struggling to build arm strength into April. After a challenging early stint in the majors, he went back down to Triple-A and was pitching well but strained a groin in late May.

He returned in June, pitched well, then was sidelined again by a hamstring strain in July. There were impressive stretches when the Sox saw Doubront with the three-pitch mix (92-94 mph fastball/change/curve) that he featured in 2010, but the disjointed year led to inconsistency.

Doubront, who played all season at 23, went 2-5, 4.22 in 70 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket, striking out 61 and walking 26. He also made 11 major league appearances—three in April and eight in September—in which he had a 6.10 ERA with eight walks and six strikeouts.

"We still see the stuff," farm director Mike Hazen said. "He had a difficult season physically. That sort of skewed how he moved through the developmental process and skewed how we used him."

Despite the challenges in 2011, the Sox continue to view Doubront as a back-end starter or reliever. He'll be out of options next year, so major league need will dictate his role.

Doubront, whose conditioning has at times been an area of concern for some team officials, recognized the importance of the coming offseason. Rather than pitching in Venezuela, he was expected to focus his winter on conditioning.

"This offseason's going to be important," Doubront said. "Hopefully I'm going to have a good workout (program) this offseason to be ready next year and don't have the same injuries I got this year."

Sox Yarns

• Ryan Lavarnway will continue his development as a catcher with a stint this winter in the Venezuelan League.

• Second-rounder Williams Jerez broke a hamate bone in instructional league. The outfielder was expected to be fine for 2012 after having surgery.