Felix Doubront’s Tough Start Should Be Expected as Young Pitcher Continues to Learn

Felix Doubront's Tough Start Should Be Expected as Young Pitcher Continues to LearnBOSTON — It's normal to forget that Felix Doubront is a rookie.

Prior to Tuesday's 5-3 loss, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine recognized the fact. In Doubront's first four starts, the lefty was arguably the most effective pitcher in the rotation, having allowed 10 runs over 22 innings.

For a rookie — a first-time, full-time starter — there will be shortcomings like Tuesday's start against the Athletics. Making his first career appearance against Oakland, Doubront endured adversity, yielding five runs and six hits over four innings.

That's not to mention his two walks and two wild pitches, the wild pitches matching a career high from July 16, 2010.

"It was a little different Felix," Valentine said. "He never really had his two-seamer tonight, it seemed to me. He's been the master of the one ball, two-strike count. [On Tuesday], he was behind virtually every hitter. He tried to battle through it without his real bread and butter.”

In Doubront's defense, he was battling cold and windy weather at Fenway. Due to the circumstances, the 24-year-old said he allowed a couple of pitches to slip out of his grasp because he couldn't properly feel his grip on the baseball.

It's just another lesson for a young pitcher. Over time, he'll learn to adapt to obstacles on the fly.

Despite his slight regression, Doubront flashed the upside of a youngster. He unleashed a devastating changeup, one that was nearly unhittable en route to recording eight strikeouts over four innings.

By flummoxing Oakland's batters, Doubront has now racked up 30 strikeouts in 26 innings — a 10.38 strikeout average per nine innings.

"That worked a lot, my changeup," he said. "I got the feeling. I was trying to just throw it. It was different with my fastball. I think because it was slow, a little bit. The arm speed worked well for the changeup."

For a hurler who has made three career starts and 33 appearances heading into this season, he'll continue to experience the ebbs and flows of the season. On Tuesday, his pitching performance reached both sides of the spectrum.

Such is life for a rookie.

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