Red Sox notes: Sox 'not crossing that bridge yet' with Felix Doubront to bullpen

June 11, 2014 - 3:31 pm

BALTIMORE -- At a time when Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa have impressed at the big league level, left-hander Felix Doubront is working his way through a minor league rehab assignment that has been less than spectacular. Doubront pitched on Tuesday in Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings while working with a fastball that rarely cracked 88 mph on the scoreboard. "I wouldn't say it was one of his more powerful outings," said Sox manager John Farrell, "but he got through it fine from a physical standpoint." The Sox don't need to see Doubront living in the low- to mid-90s in order to determine that he's ready to return to the big leagues, but they do want to see him show improved pitch execution, something that the team believes will require him to rebuild his arm strength further. Particularly given the compelling case Workman has been making as a reliable member of the rotation, there is what manager John Farrell described as "competition [starting] to take hold, which is a healthy thing." Of course, that being the case, it seems worth asking: What happens if Doubront is viewed at the conclusion of that competition as being a less appealing starting option than either of the current Sox starters? Workman and De La Rosa both have options left, and so they can be sent to the minors without risk of losing them to another team. Doubront is out of options. Doubront has pitched effectively out of the bullpen in the past -- most memorably, in the World Series last year -- and so that would appear to be one alternative. But Farrell suggested that it isn't currently a consideration.

"We'€™re not crossing that bridge yet," Farrell said of the idea of having Doubront pitch out of the bullpen. "That means someone else [from the bullpen] is going to go and you'€™ve got guys out there that either don'€™t have options or they'€™re not movable." 

For now,  Doubront is slated to make at least one more rehab start in the minors this coming weekend, after which the Sox will decide what his next step will be. The team could keep him stashed in the minors on his rehab assignment, but at the end of that, barring an injury to a currently active member of the pitching staff, if there's not a rotation vacancy, the team would have to decide whether to create one by sending out Workman or De La Rosa, whether to move him to the bullpen or whether to explore the possibility of trading him. (As an inexpensive left-hander with a track record that suggests the presence of swing-and-miss stuff, there would be a market for him.)

But for now, the Sox just want to get Doubront's arm strength back to the point where it can mull the available options. Until that happens, however, the team is happy to have pitchers with major league stuff in Workman and De La Rosa available while Doubront and Clay Buchholz work their ways back. "Brandon and Rubby have thrown the ball well on the whole. Does it buy us some time? It does, initially," said Farrell. "We also know that fully healthy and performing clay Buchholz, that'€™s someone we don'€™t want pitching in Pawtucket." OTHER RED SOX NOTES -- Shortstop Stephen Drew is out for a third straight day while dealing with soreness in his oblique, though with Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on the mound, there's a decent likelihood Drew would have been out of Wednesday's lineup regardless of his condition. The Sox planned to have Drew take part in a full workout day on Wednesday to see if he would be ready to return to the lineup by Thursday, when the team returns to Boston to play the Indians. "He'€™s never dealt with an oblique before so where he'€™s had maybe some hamstring issues in the past, this is something he really doesn'€™t have anything to gauge or compare against," said Farrell. "And we don'€™t want to risk it and turn it into anything more prolonged." -- Outfielder Andres Torres, whom the Red Sox signed to a minor league deal on Wednesday morning, will report to Short-Season Single-A Lowell to start his season. Farrell said that the Sox view the switch-hitter (who has been better against left-handed pitchers) as offering the potential for outfield depth and a complement to the Sox' left-handed outfielders. However, it may be some time before he can do so, given that he's working his way back from surgery last August to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. "Recognizing there'€™s an injury in which he'€™s coming back from, everything in his workouts right now suggest this is a worthy situation to take a look at," said Farrell. "I think we'€™ve looked at all options to complement the majority of our left-handed hitting outfielders and the strength of [Daniel Nava] being on the left side. This is one guy that has that track record that fits that criteria. I can'€™t say that it was a specific mold, it was also to say who are the possibilities that could be brought in and potentially provide an option of which to go to."