Felix Doubront, who absorbed his eighth loss of the season on Friday night, said before Saturday's game that he would resist any urge to prematurely shutdown his season, saying he felt fine and that he was in no way fatigued from having thrown a career-high 134.2 innings in 25 starts this season.
"I feel good, man,'' Doubront said. "I just want to keep going and finish the season strong and healthy. Thatís more important.''
Although he was not available to speak to reporters after he gave up five runs on six hits, including a pair of home runs, after four innings of work, Doubront addressed speculation about a possible shutdown of his season, saying he had not had any discussions on the matter with Sox manager Bobby Valentine or with anyone in the front office.
"No, not at all,'' he said. "I think what affects me now is confidence. Itís not because Iím tired. The arm feels good.''
Doubront said his issues revolved around his inability of late to "finish hitters,'' he said.
He is 0-4 in his last seven starts with an ERA of 8.27 over that stretch, in which the Sox have gone 2-5. He has allowed 30 runs on 45 hits, including seven homers, while walking 20 and striking out 37 in 32.2 innings pitched. It is a stretch in which opposing batters have hit .326 against him.
"Itís a couple of things, but control is one,'' Doubront said. "The mechanics are good. But finishing the hitter is more important. I have no confidence about that.''
Concentration, or his lack thereof, was another issue that's complicated matters for Doubront on the mound of late.
"Yeah, sometimes, I try to be too perfect, too much,'' he said. "It's one thing I can't control right now. I just want to get the hitter out and throw as many pitches as I can. That's the only thing I can control, finishing the hitter in three or four pitches.
"I'm throwing too many pitches to get one hitter out.''
Doubront's elevated pitch count has resulted in laborious outings which have now totaled a career-high 134.2 innings, almost 100 more than he compiled in his first two seasons as a professional (35.1 IP). The most he'd ever thrown before this season was 129.1 innings in Single A ball with the Red Sox in 2008.
Asked if there was any concern about the mounting innings leading to creeping fatigue, Valentine said, "Youíd have to consider it. But, you know, if he comes in next season and he gets to this high-water mark and everyone starts thinking about shutting him down again, itís probably best -- if he feels good Ė to let that bar be as high as possible, so he can extend it as long as heís not going to be injured.
"You take that from him and the medical room, and weíll see,''
Said Doubront: "When I feel tired, Iím going to let them know. But Iím not. Iím just going to keep pitching. Like I said, Iíve just got to figure out how to pitch my way out of it.íí
In other matters:
ē John Lackey threw off the mound at Fenway for the first time since coming off Tommy John surgery last November 1. Lackey threw 15 pitches in a live batting practice against stand-in hitters Daniel Nava and Ivan De Jesus.
"First step in the new world for him after a real hard summer of rehab,'' Valentine said. "Better than how he looked was how he felt and he said he felt great afterwards, and that is whatís really important.''
Valentine said Lackey would likely go through the normal routine of rest and recovery before getting back on the mound in 4-5 days.
"I wish I could have that little magic crystal ball that told me the future,'' Valentine said. "But if he continues to work hard all winter, which I believe he will. Heíll give us and himself the best chance. Now, whether or not it has to be Opening Day, I can tell you right now I donít think thatís necessarily the goal. To get him back healthy would be the key, 100 percent."
ē Jarrod Saltalamacchia was given the night off after he suffered back spasms in Friday night's game, prompting Valentine to start Ryan Lavarnway Saturday night.
"Saltyís going to rest today and not take batting practice,'' Valentine reported. "He had a pretty good spasm. We talked about the situation and the situation is letís make sure itís perfect before he gets back in September. He said he wants to play, so itíll probably only be a day or two.''