Saltalamacchia: Doubront 'is doing a great job'

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Saltalamacchia: Doubront 'is doing a great job'

BOSTON -- Felix Doubront has been one of, if not the most reliable pitcher on the Red Sox staff this season.
It's just his first season as a starting pitcher, but you wouldn't know it if you looked at his now 8-3 record.
Doubront picked up his eighth win of the season on Wednesday night while allowing four runs on nine hits and a home run in six innings. The eight wins is tied with Clay Buchholz for most on the team.
And like Buchholz the night prior -- when he picked up his eighth win of the season -- Doubront was the recipient of some pretty generous run support against the Miami Marlins at Fenway.
Before Clayton Mortensen relieved Doubront of his duties, the Red Sox had already put up 13 runs.
"Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after Boston's 15-5 win.
"So far, he's showing a lot of toughness," Valentine later added. "And the guy on third base is not a gimme. Infield back, guy on third, early in the game, late in the game, whatever it is, he really bears down and makes his best pitches, it seems, with runners in scoring position."
Doubront said after the game that he was missing his spots for most of the night, which led to some struggles. But he did get out of several jams and limited the damage in his six innings.
"Kind of a slow start," said Doubront afterwards, who also admitted he was affected by the extreme temperature. "I felt down a little bit in the first inning. And the rest of the game I tried to pick it up a little bit more, and be more effective."
By limiting the damage on a night that he clearly didn't have his best stuff, Doubront showed the type of battle that his teammates are now used to seeing every fifth night from him.
"Doubront did a great job," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "He didn't have his command like he always does. But he fought. He fought his way through it, did a great job and that shows how good of a pitcher he is.
"His makeup, the way he's been throwing the ball, going after hitters with his fastball. He's just a calm kid that goes out there, and, you'd think he's been in the big leagues for 10 years. And he's just starting this year as a starter. So, I mean, he's just a great kid and is doing a great job."

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''