Doubront insists fatigue not an issue

774498.jpg

Doubront insists fatigue not an issue

BOSTON Whatever his troubles have been recently, Felix Doubront insisted Saturday afternoon they are not because of fatigue.

No. Not at all, Doubront said. I think you saw what affects me now is confidence, something like that. Its not because Im tired. Its not tired. I feel good. My body feels good.

After Fridays loss, manager Bobby Valentine said the possibility of shutting down or resting Doubront would be discussed. Saturday afternoon, Valentine said that discussion had not taken place.

It would make sense if Doubront, who is 10-8, feels some fatigue at this point in the season. The left-hander has made 25 starts, spanning 134 23 innings this season, a drastic increase more than 50 percent -- over the 87 23 he threw last season.

Youd have to consider it but I know if he comes into next season and he gets to this high-water mark and everyone starts thinking about shutting him down again, its probably best if he feels good, to let that innings-pitched bar be as high as possible so he could extend it, Valentine said. As long as hes not going to be injured. You take that from him and the medical room and well see.

Earlier in the season, Doubront, who is in his first full big league season, was one of the more reliable and consistent pitchers in the Red Sox rotation. But, he has struggled mightily in his recent outings. He has said confidence has become an issue for him, which could be affected by his recent outings.

He took the loss Friday, falling to 10-8, as his ERA climbed to 5.21. He went four innings (plus one batter in the fifth), giving up five runs on six hits, including two home runs, and two walks with four strikeouts. It marked the fifth consecutive start, and sixth in his last seven, that Doubront has not been able to go more than five innings. He is 0-3 with a 9.70 ERA in that stretch. The last time he went longer was six innings on July 29 at Yankee Stadium. He has not won since July 18, seven starts ago.

He has also said concentration has become an issue.

Yeah. Sometimes I try to be too much perfect, Doubront said. Its one thing I can't control right now. I just want to get the hitter out and throw as many pitches as I can and they start fouling off thats the only thing I have to control: finish the hitter in three or four pitches. Im throwing too many pitches to get one hitter out.

One of the issues could be strikeouts. Doubront has a 9.1 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio. If he had enough innings to qualify, that number would put him fifth in the American League, behind Justin Verlanders 9.21. Is he trying too hard to get strikeouts, rather than just getting outs?

Sometimes thats a mental situation, he said. Thats a pitching mentality. You want to strike out a guy, get him out on one or two pitches. Its not working for me.

Home runs have also become an issue. In 25 starts has given up 22 home runs, including two on Friday.

Doubront is planning to make his next start, planning to do the same things he usually does before then. And hes not planning to be shut down.

When I feel tired Im going to let them know, he said. But Im not. Im just going to keep pitching, and like I said, figure it out, learn how to pitch, and thats it.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

world_series_francona_epstein_102416.png

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.