Doubront compounds pitching problem

Doubront compounds pitching problem
May 9, 2013, 2:15 am
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BOSTON -- Felix Doubront was originally scheduled to start against the Twins Wednesday night. But injuries to the Red Sox bullpen forced manager John Farrell to shuffle his pitching staff. So rather than starting, Doubront entered the game in relief of struggling spot starter Allen Webster.

It was just the second inning, the Sox trailed by three runs, the Twins had a runner on and two outs. But rather than offering much relief, Doubront compounded the problem. He allowed the inherited runner to score and gave up four runs of his own in the inning.

Doubront went 5 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on 12 hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He needed 105 pitches to get through his outing.

“I just felt like he fell behind a lot of hitters, which when you can’t throw your off-speed stuff for strikes they’re going to sit on the fastball,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “And that’s kind of what they did early. And the next few innings he was able to get the curveball over, get his changeup over, and really use all his pitches, and that helps out.”

But Doubront's struggles have been an ongoing concern this season. Decreased velocity, getting ahead of hitters and failing to put them away, struggling to close out innings.

“A tough night from the mound tonight,” said manager John Farrell. “A number of pitches found their way to the middle of the plate. Once again, they swung aggressively, they hit a number of fastballs that didn’t get to the intended location. The one thing that’s a little concerning with Felix is that while he’ll get ahead of certain hitters, still lacks the ability to put some guys away and we’ve seen that the last two outings for him.”

In the past, Doubront has cited a lack of focus or concentration as an issue for him. But Farrell said that has not been the case this season.

Despite the rotation shuffling for this game, Doubront is expected to resume his spot in the rotation. Farrell said that plan has not changed.

“Our plan had been and still remains that Felix would take that turn,” Farrell said. “We haven’t come off that initial plan, which is Felix starting next time through.”

But the Sox would like to see Doubront execute a better plan.

“Improvement on basically getting ahead of hitters and putting them away is very important,” pitching coach Juan Nieves said. "We saw it in [his last start on May 3 in] Texas, we saw it today. Getting a lot of two-strike base hits and pitches that were in the zone. We continue working down in the bullpen….We’re going to work on putaway pitches.”