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.

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

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Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.