John Farrell looking for 'progression and improvement' from Felix Doubront in 2014

Mike Petraglia
February 24, 2014 - 11:16 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With manager John Farrell looking on intently Monday morning, Felix Doubront threw roughly 30 pitches in a live batting practice session to Grady Sizemore and Xander Bogaerts. Doubront isn't trying to pick up where he left off in 2013, but rather replicate the success he found over a three-month stretch of the season when the team - and rotation - needed him the most. Accomplishing that is key building upon a season that was a stepping stone to what could be bigger and better things for the Venezuelan lefty. Last season, he posted his second straight 11-win season, making 27 starts, compiling a 4.32 ERA and a 1.429 WHIP. But for a stretch of 16 starts, June through August, there was no one more reliable in the Red Sox rotation. When Clay Buchholz went down over that stretch, Doubront and a sub-3.00 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. On Monday, he showed the stuff that made him so effective keeping his offspeed and breaking pitches down in the zone, creating swings and misses to Bogaerts (righthanded) and Sizemore (lefty). "He's throwing the ball well," manager John Farrell said. "He's come into camp in better shape than years past. We look for a progression and improvement on last year. That's ideally eliminating some of those peaks and valleys. He was on a long run from about early May for about a 16-start stretch where he was one of our more consistent starters. he's an extremely talented guy. he's got a couple things that really work for him: The overall pitch mix that he has, and he has shown us the ability to win on days where he doesn't have his best stuff. I think that's a testament to his savvy on the mound and the fact that he does generate some swing and miss." After getting lit up in September, including allowing five runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 innings in relief on Sept. 29, Doubront again found his groove in the playoffs, showing he can handle the pressure of playoff baseball. After not appearing in the series against Tampa Bay, he appeared twice in relief against the Tigers in the ALCS and twice out of the pen against the Cardinals in the World Series. He was spectacular, compiling a 1.29 ERA in seven innings, allowing just three hits and one run and a 0.857 WHIP.