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Red Sox notebook

Doubront on fast track

Lefthander will debut vs. Dodgers

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 17, 2010

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There was a good reason for Terry Francona to pay attention to lefthander Felix Doubront this spring. As the Red Sox manager said yesterday in announcing Doubront would take Daisuke Matsuzaka’s start tomorrow against the Dodgers, “John Farrell loves him, absolutely loves him. When he says that, that gets my attention. He’s been on this kid since the first side he saw him throw.’’

So just four starts into his Triple A career, Doubront will head to Fenway Park for his first major league start. He had an impressive showing with Double A Portland (4-0, 2.51 ERA) before being promoted to Pawtucket (2-1, 1.08). He spent some time on the disabled list, though that was mostly to limit his innings, and he has not pitched since June 7.

But his strong fastball, especially coming from a southpaw, got the attention of the coaching staff.

“Those type of prospects are very bright,’’ Farrell said, referring to power lefties. “Where they don’t have to rely on hitters going outside the zone, chasing pitches to get themselves out, and even when they come to the major leagues and they find that the strike zone can be smaller and the reluctance of a hitter to chase more is less than what he might have experienced on the way to the major league level.

“So when you factor those things in with his abilities, he’s got a very bright future, and we’re all looking forward to seeing him.’’

In addition to the fastball, Doubront throws a curveball and changeup. Of the still-developing curveball, Farrell said, “In spring training, with the added adrenaline, it’s created some increased arm speed where the pitch has tightened up. But I think most importantly, how he controls his adrenaline will be the biggest key.’’

The Sox have so far been impressed with how Doubront has coped with the opportunities presented, including pitching to major leaguers in spring training. The fact he is able to get outs with his fastball and didn’t back away from contact were clues to his abilities, Farrell said.

But that’s not going to be easy tomorrow, especially for a 22-year-old. The Sox understand that there will be adrenaline and emotion, and are looking to see how he can handle that. No matter how he pitches, though, it’s clear that the Sox are salivating at the prospect of being able to pair their current power lefty (Jon Lester) with another arm that could be in that mold.

“When you see a lefthander who’s [6 feet 3 inches] who can throw the ball in the low 90s, that’s a lot of good things to start with,’’ Farrell said.

Because of his inexperience, the Sox will likely leave the pitch calling to the catcher.

On the lookout
There’s no question Francona will be watching as much of tonight’s NBA Finals Game 7 as he can, especially now that his game was moved to 6:10 p.m. to give fans a chance to enjoy both games.

He won’t, however, give the Celtics or coach Doc Rivers any help.

“I don’t know the difference between zone defense and man-to-man,’’ Francona said. “He doesn’t need advice. They know what they’re doing. They win or lose, they know what they’re doing. I think perspective is probably a word that’s not well used around here. You’ve got a team that they’re playing for the championship of the world. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment in itself.

“It’s exciting. [Tonight’s] a big night. There are a lot of cities that are very envious I would think of where the Celtics are. I think people maybe lose sight of how enjoyable the journey can be. You don’t have to wait till it’s over to enjoy it.’’

Guess who’s back?
Marco Scutaro returned to the lineup last night after receiving a nerve root injection in his neck Monday. He led off the game with a single up the middle, then scored on Dustin Pedroia’s home run. “He actually wanted to play [Tuesday],’’ Francona said. “I don’t think that would have made a lot of sense. You go to that length to give him a shot for the long haul, that would have been a mistake to play him [Tuesday].’’ . . . Matsuzaka was scheduled to throw as far as 150 feet yesterday. There is the potential Matsuzaka could throw a side session as soon as today . . . After playing in two straight games against Arizona, Mike Cameron will again miss out on playing three straight. The last time he played three consecutive games was against Kansas City at the end of May. “I’m doing much better,’’ Cameron said. Cameron will try to “balance my rhythm out a little bit,’’ with his day off today, as he continues to work his way back from the lower abdominal strain. He’s still waiting for his first home run of the season. “I know I can hit them,’’ he said. “I hit them in BP. That’s always a good sign. I’ve been getting the ball in the air, just ain’t been able to get it over the wall.’’ Cameron turned serious again, calling the ordeal “probably the toughest grind I’ve had to go through in my whole career, as far as what I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis to get ready to play.’’ . . . J.D. Drew has played in the same game as his brother, Stephen, 17 times, with a .375 average. He also has 8 runs, 5 doubles, 5 homers, 5 walks, and 18 RBIs. He had a double last night . . . The loss was the 12th straight on the road for Arizona, a franchise record. . . . Josh Beckett is continuing to progress well, though he will not be back quickly as he has not pitched since May 18. “I think he really feels good about himself,’’ Francona said. “That was the best news for us with him. Just the look on his face, he’s confident. Now, again, that doesn’t mean you’re going to skip the progression, but when he starts feeling good like that, we need that.’’ . . . Double A shortstop Jose Iglesias had his hand checked out in Boston yesterday. According to director of player development Mike Hazen, doctors found a healing small occult fracture in a follow-up CT scan. The fracture was on the second metacarpal. Iglesias will have a few more weeks of inactivity before he can get back to baseball . . . The Sox made the signings of 10 draft picks official, including their No. 1 pick, Kolbrin Vitek, and No. 2 pick, Bryce Brentz. Both are heading to short-season Single A Lowell to start their professional careers. Boston also signed its 12th-round pick, righthander Garrett Rau, and its 13th-round pick, righthander Keith Couch.

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