Doubront excited for opportunity to start

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Doubront excited for opportunity to start

FORT MYERS, Fla. Felix Doubront's first start of the spring, set for Saturday night at Boston College, would be significant enough given that the lefty is in competition with about a half-dozen other pitchers for the final spot in the Red Sox rotation.

But when you factor in that it's the start of a new season and a full step away from a forgettable 2011, it's truly noteworthy.

"I was thinking today," said a smiling Doubront, "that I'm a little bit excited to throw the ball again."

Doubront's 2011 season got off to a bad start and never got much better. After one of his first long-toss sessions last spring, he felt some tenderness in his left elbow and was shut down for a period of a few weeks.

He lost valuable time during exhibition play, taking him out of the battle for the major league staff. It would not be the last time that injuries interrupted his year.

He later had left groin and right hamstring pulls sideline him at Pawtucket. Each time, he was on the verge of being promoted to Boston to help out the major league staff. Each time, he missed the opportunity.

"I was close," he said ruefully, "and (the injuries) ruined it."

Called up when rosters expanded in September, Doubront, 24, managed to get into 11 games covering 10 13 innings, but it wasn't the kind of impact that Doubront had planned to make in 2011.

Healthy after a throwing program in the off-season, Doubront is in the crowded mix for the rotation, battling not only another lefty (Andrew Miller) and a righthanded holdover (Alfredo Aceves), but also some veteran free agents singed by the club this winter (Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva and Ross Ohlendorf).

Like most of the others, Doubront has pitched in relief, too, but for now, his goal is aimed squarely at the rotation.

"There's a lot of competition, tough competition," he said. "But I'm going to go out there and do my job and work hard and show them that I want the fifth spot in the rotation."

Complicating matters at least a little bit is the fact that Doubront (like Miller) is out of options, meaning the Red Sox can't send him back to Triple A Pawtucket without first exposing him to waivers.

That may work to his benefit, since the Sox, like any any other organization, value talented, young lefties who can throw in the mid-90s.

"I have to make the team," said of his situation. "That's a challenge for me."

Most of Doubront's 23 major league appearances have come in relief, but he's mostly started in the minors and feels that's the best showcase for his ability.

"I've got my four pitches, including a new one, a cutter," said Doubront. "I think I have more options to (help) as a starter. I like relieving, too. I like the adrenaline (that comes with pitching out of the bullpen). But as a starter, you have more time (to figure
things out).

"For now, I'm a starter."

Starting Saturday night.

Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

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Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

BOSTON – The Bruins are starting to run out of adjectives and descriptors for these “no-show” performances on home ice.

The Bruins made it twice in two months that they’ve dropped a disappointing dud to one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams when they came out flat, and never showed any signs of life in a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The lack of effort and pitiful results were particularly disappointing coming off a solid five game stretch where they’d engineered high effort wins over Florida, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Patrice Bergeron finished a minus-3 on the afternoon, and said in quasi-disgust that he knew five minutes into the game that his team didn’t have “it” on Monday.

“Something that we talked [headed into Monday was] about building from the last few weeks, and how good it felt around the room, I guess, with winning games basically,” said Bergeron. “[The shutout loss] just shows that you have to show up every night and not take things for granted. I think we did [take things for granted] this afternoon.

“It was about finding someone to get us a shift to get us going basically. We had a few good shifts there, and we sustained a little bit of pressure there. But then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going, we couldn’t sustain that or build from that. It was really the whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and, you know, it’s obviously inexcusable, unacceptable.”

Claude Julien mentioned the compacted schedule and potential fatigue playing into the Bruins looking “flat” on Monday against the Islanders, and perhaps that is partially to blame for an uncharacteristically lifeless performance from the Black and Gold. But the B’s essentially did nothing for 60 minutes after not having played for 48 hours dating back to a Saturday afternoon matinee win over the Flyers, so the fatigue excuse is difficult to swallow.

Instead it looked like a Bruins team that thought they were going to roll out the pucks and beat the worst team in the Metro Division that had lost four-of-five games. Instead a defensive zone breakdown led to a Nikolay Kulemin goal midway through the second period, and the Bruins collapsed after that. Josh Bailey tucked a short side goal past a late-reacting Tuukka Rask for a soft serve special allowed by Boston’s ace goaltender, and Kulemin scored again in the second period once the Bruins began cheating at the offensive end of the ice.

To make matters worse, the Bruins showed zero fight or willingness to scratch and claw their way back into the game in the third period. Instead it looked like they quit on two points that could end up being extremely important at the end of the season.

It also looked like the Bruins weren’t ready to play, and that they overlooked the downtrodden Islanders for the second time in as many months.

“Maybe we took them a little lightly, but we just weren’t ready [to play],” said Brad Marchand. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror and all be a little bit better. We all have to be prepared for every game. You can’t look at the guy besides us and think he’s going to do the job. We have to take a little onus on ourselves and all be a little bit better. As a team, again, we have to play the system together and we have to back each other up. We have to play as one unit and we didn’t do that.”

It’s long past the point where the words even matter that the Bruins are uttering after games like Monday afternoon. Instead it’s about results and nothing else, and the B’s were nothing short of putrid in that category against the Islanders with points at a premium this time of year.