FORT MYERS, Fla. — Felix Doubront is giving the Boston Red Sox plenty of reason to be optimistic about his 2014 potential.
Doubront, who had an up-and-down 2013 season, was excellent in his second spring training start Friday. The left-hander tossed four shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park, and again showed great command, which is something Doubront often lacked last season.
?He?s night and day from last year, for me,? Red Sox catcher David Ross said Friday. ?He?s repeating pitches, he?s repeating location, he?s able to fix his mechanics mid game. Fastball command is everything for me as a catcher, and he?s doing a lot better job this year, for me, of knowing how to move the ball around the zone just strictly with his fastball.?
Doubront now has six shutout innings under his belt this spring. He has allowed just three hits while striking out six and, most importantly, hasn?t walked anyone. Doubront, whose pitch count so often soared early in games last season due to control problems, even pitched a fourth inning Friday despite being scheduled for three frames because he was so efficient out of the gate.
?I think he?s in a pretty confidence place right now,? manager John Farrell said after Friday?s game. ?But more than anything, we?re not seeing two, three, four pitches consecutively being misfired. ? It?s very encouraging to see how he?s repeated his delivery. That?s one of the things he has worked on since the day he signed a pro contract, and that?s becoming more consistent.?
Doubront said after Friday?s start that he feels much better this spring training than in years past. The 26-year-old said he wants to pitch deeper into games this season, which is something that starts with being aggressive and getting ahead early in counts.
Doubront, who went 11-6 with a 4.32 ERA in 29 regular-season starts last season, has struggled with conditioning a few times throughout his young career. Wearing down might not be a problem this season, though, as the southpaw showed up to camp in great shape.
?I?m seeing the results right now,? Doubront said. ?I?m pretty strong. I threw four innings today really good. My legs and my arm feel good. I?m going to keep doing what I?m doing right now to be in a good position every game.?
Doubront projects to be Boston?s No. 4 or No. 5 starter this season, but really could become a game-changer in the Red Sox?s rotation if things continue on the current track. Doubront was very consistent for a three-month stretch in 2013, and everything has been encouraging for the lefty so far this spring.