Felix Doubront had to feel good about his first minor league rehab start.
The Boston Red Sox left-hander, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder fatigue on May 21, pitched four innings for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday, allowing two runs on three hits.
Doubront struck out two, did not walk a batter and needed just 43 pitches (31 strikes) to complete the four frames.
“The goal was pacing myself without going too hard,” the southpaw told the Portland Press Herald.
Doubront kept his velocity lower than usual — his fastball topped 90 mph just once — as he eases back into game action. He said after his outing, though, that he already has come a long way in his rehab process.
“My shoulder is lot better,” Doubront said. “I wish I started my year the way I feel now.”
Doubront had been struggling at the major league level before his DL stint, posting a 5.12 ERA and failing to complete seven innings in any of his first nine starts. His most recent outing — a 7-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays — was one of his worst, as he allowed five runs on five hits, three walks and two home runs in four-plus innings before leaving the game with shoulder soreness.
“Up and down,” Doubront added. “Some days I feel really good, other days bad. Then the shoulder issue happens. It’s something I’m taking care of right now.”
Doubront’s next rehab start, scheduled for next week, will likely come at Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Sea Dogs scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Erie SeaWolves 5-3.