Doubront impresses in first start of season

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Doubront impresses in first start of season

TORONTO -- Felix Doubront didn't pitch as deep into the game as the Red Sox would have liked. But while he was on the mound Monday night, there were no complaints.

Doubront allowed two runs on four hits while striking out six against the Toronto Blue Jays. The only problem was, thanks to his pitch count, he was lifted after five, having already thrown 101 pitches.

"That was a really well-pitched game by Felix," gushed manager Bobby Valentine. "He took spring training right into the game. I thought he had great stuff. His curve ball was terrific. His fastball was moving."

"I was pretty much focused on throwing strikes," said Doubront, who set a career high with his six strikeouts. "I was focusing on keeping the ball down, no matter what. I threw five innings and kept the score like that and waited for the team to get some runs and win the game."

Doubront said he understood the significance of the game after an 0-3 start in Detroit and concentrate on giving his team a chance to get its first win.

He also handled Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista expertly. Three times, Bautista came to the plate with runners on base and three times, Doubront won the battle.

The lefty got Bautista to hit into an inning-ending double play in the first, retired him on a flyout to right with two on and one out in the third and finally, got him to foul out weakly to third with a runner on first and one out in the fifth.

"I just kept the ball down and didn't elevate the four-seamer up," said Doubront. "He's a good hitter and he can do some damage if you leave the ball up over the plate. Pretty much, that was my approach to him -- keep the ball down. I did a pretty good job against him."

The only negative for Doubront was working deep into counts, and with it, running his pitch count up to the point where he could only give the team five innings.

"There were a lot of real close pitches," said Valentine. "I'm sure when the umpires get to know him and know that he's around the plate the way he is, he's going to get a lot more (calls his way)."

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Three players are tied for the Red Sox' lead in home runs in Florida. Only two of them will be with the team come Opening Day.

The other may be the starting first baseman a year from now.

Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Sam Travis have all gone deep three times this Grapefruit League season.

Coming back from surgery on his left ACL, Travis has yet to play in the majors. But he easily could later this year.

In a perfect world, though, the 23-year-old spends 2017 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He needs to prove he can consistently hit off-speed pitches.

A right-handed hitting first baseman who played college ball with Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Travis already crushes fastballs.

He carries himself like a stereotypical masher, too.

Travis rocks an unbuttoned jersey with no undershirt. No batting gloves. A grip-it-and-rip-it approach and Mike Napoli vibe.

But, don't get too caught up in the image.

"I mean, are you essentially asking like, do I still like have a plan?" Travis said when approached about his reputation.

No, because everyone has a plan. It's a question of how his is formulated, what matters to him. Because it can't always be as simple as see ball, hit ball. And it isn't.

"I definitely watch video. Everyone watches video," Travis said. "You kind of need to watch video when you get to this stage . . . You're in the box, you don't really want to think at all. That's what practice is for. But yeah, I'm definitely working on stuff.

"Just because I don't wear batting gloves doesn't mean I'm just going out there -- I definitely still got an idea what I'm trying to do."

Travis said he tried batting gloves once in high school and they just didn't feel right. So he takes hacks with a 34-inch bat with no frills..

But even when hitters say they don't think at the plate, they do.

If you're up 2-and-0, the thought has to cross your mind: fastball?

"I mean, yeah, you definitely are talking to yourself," Travis said. "But you don't want to get too far into your own thoughts because then that's when you get in trouble."

Slugging involves calculating.

Travis will look at scouting reports, but they're not his end-all be-all. The written ones, anyway. He keeps others in his head.

"I like to know what pitches [an opponent] has, which way pitches are going to move," Travis said. "But you know, you find that out from other players, and of course scouting reports and video. But the best experience is when you're actually in there, when you actually see it first hand.

"I remember everybody."

Video can be used to break down one's own swing, too. But that's not Travis. Tinkering's not his bag.

In part, that's because he's always had a simple approach mechanically.

"I don't really take much of a stride or anything. I kind of just pick it up and put it down," Travis said. "I've always been the guy that can make an adjustment pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat depending on what the pitcher is, it just goes with like timing and stuff."

Usually, somewhere along the way -- in the professional or amateur chain -- a coach will try to change a player's swing. Travis said that wasn't the case for him, though.

"No. Not really," Travis said. "Everyone's still gonna have minor adjustments, it's just how the game works. You know, you're going to put a bad swing on the ball. But as long as you recognize it and get right back to where you are . . .

"I've always been a guy who believes less movement, the better it is. That's my own personal opinion. Whatever works for people, that's what they're going to do."

Sometimes, that means loosening a few buttons and just letting it rip.

After watching a little video before the game.

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