Doubront proves to be viable starter

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Doubront proves to be viable starter

BALTIMORE -- Felix Doubront would have preferred, of course, to finish his season with a win. But he succeeded in finishing strong.

Doubront fanned 10 in a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, giving him double-digits in strikeouts for the second time in as many outings. With no more starts scheduled, Doubront will finish the year with an 11-10 record, and ERA of 4.86 and more strikeouts (167) than innings pitched (161).

Not bad for his first full season in the big leagues.

"I think he showed people he's a good pitcher,'' said Bobby Valentine. "I'm proud of the way he pitched all season and he should be proud of his first (full) season in the big leagues. I think he's a good pitcher. He has strikeout stuff.''

"What I'm seeing,'' added catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, "is a guy who's really maturing. It's his first year starting, he's a young kid. He's really just starting to mature and starting to go out there and see what he's all about. He knows he's good. He's just to go out there and continue to pitch well and that's exactly what he's done.''

Doubront finished with a flourish. In the last inning of his last start, with runners on second and third with one out, he fanned both J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones to strand the runners and finish with 10 strikeouts.

"Finishing this way was a good way to finish,'' Doubront said. "I had a lot of challenges and a lot of learning. It was a very good season for me, my first full year. I figured some things out for next season.''

The Sox, worried that Doubront was on schedule to pitch a career-high in inning, shut the tiring lefty down for a few weeks in August. He struggled some after the layoff, but in his final four starts, compiled an ERA of 3.07.

"I came to spring training to win that spot (in the rotation),'' he said, "and to finish the season strong was one of my goals. I'm tired, but I'm just going to keep working for next year.''

Valentine noted that Doubront got over a habit he battled earlier in the season, when he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters, then lose them.

He said pitching coach Randy Niemann has been working with Doubront to quicken his tempo, and that, too, has been improved.

"He's worked quicker and looked better,'' said Valentine. "When a young guy improves right up until the last day of the season, I think that's a good thing.

Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

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Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.