Healthy Doubront established himself as starter

Healthy Doubront established himself as starter

Healthy Doubront established himself as starter
BOSTON -- Felix Doubront made his 28th start of the season on Sunday, and although he's had an up-and-down year, the most important thing might be that he's on the mound in late September and presumably healthy.

The 24-year-old lefty has battled through back pain, a sore elbow and other various ailments over the last two years, throwing just 105 innings in 2010 and 87 2/3 innings in 2011.

Prior to Sunday he was up to 147 innings for 2012 with two starts to go.

Doubront's ERA may be hovering around 5.00, but his stability has been a vital improvement.

"I certainly hope this has established -- in his mind and the mind of others -- that he's a bona fide starting pitcher in the Major Leagues," said Boston manager Bobby Valentine.

During parts of 2011, Doubront spent so much time getting medical attention in Triple-A Pawtucket that a sticker with his name on it guarded the door to the trainer's room.

Former manager Terry Francona always spoke highly of the young pitcher but was often afraid to let him loose, especially early in the season.

But Doubront has grown in a lot of ways this year. His health has been promising, and his strikeout rate of 8.9 per nine innings is as good as it's been since he was toying with Class A batters in 2008.

Valentine believes that as Doubront gains a better understanding of each hitter in the league, it'll be easier for him to keep the strikeouts coming without the downside of a high walk rate (4.2 per nine innings in 2012).

And as Doubront matures, dealing with umpires and handling adversity should become much easier.

"He fights himself sometimes," Valentine said. "He fights the umpire sometimes, the conditions, the play made behind him. That's in the learning process.

"And I think there have been examples set here that aren't the right examples, and I think he has to get over that."

Still, watching Doubront blossom and keep his body in good shape has been a bright spot for the Red Sox this season.

"I think he came to Spring Training in good shape," Valentine said. "I think that was the key. ... I think this winter will be a very crucial winter for him to continue his physical stability. Then I think it was just opportunity, and he made the best of opportunity every time he got the ball."