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.

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
 
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
 
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
 
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
 
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
 
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
 
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
 
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
 
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
 
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
 
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
 
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
 
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
 
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
 
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
 

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."