CLEVELAND Felix Doubront appeared to be battling fatigue in Thursday nights loss to the Indians when he couldnt get out of the fifth inning, and the Sox are addressing that by skipping his next start.
The Sox lefty was penciled in to pitch Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles, but instead veteran righty Aaron Cook will get the outing at Camden Yards. Doubront is 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA in his last four games, and struggled mightily with fastball command while failing to get out of the fifth inning against the Tribe armed with a 3-1 lead.
The plan is to have things be adjustable right now, and the plan is that were going to have Felix miss his next start, said Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Aaron will pitch in his stead. So six starters then becomes five, and it might go back to up to six or stay at five depending the things we see.
Right now, a little blow for Felix is exactly what the doctor ordered. I want him to miss one start, take a deep breath and maybe do a little leg work.
Doubront said following Thursdays loss that fatigue wasnt an issue, but its pretty clear the Sox want to be careful as hes approaching his professional career-high in innings pitched. (129 13 back in 2008). The Sox southpaw leads the team in wins (10) and quality starts (11), but has also pitched more than 30 innings pitched than he did last season while sitting at 122 23 innings in the middle of August.
Valentine indicated that Doubront could be used out of the bullpen if its necessary over the next 10 days, but the hope is that he can work on strengthening his legs. At the same time they want him to scale back on his throwing program and perhaps regain a little of the command and oomph on his mid-90s fastball.
He wont pitch in the bullpen for a while during this spell, but between now and the next time he gets slotted in to the rotation he might pitch out of the pen, said Valentine. It will be out of necessity, but hopefully we dont need to necessitate that.
Valentine said its not necessary a young pitcher thing thats causing the Doubront break, but its always beneficial for a baseball team to proceed with caution when a young hurler is approaching any kind of innings hurdles. That is doubly so when the pitcher is also showing signs of arm fatigue.
So the Sox will switch in the veteran for the rookie in the next turn of the rotation as they prepare for an important pair of divisional series against the Orioles and Yankees over the next 10 days.