Extra Bases

Doubront switched to bullpen

Terry Francona said that LHP Felix Doubront was told last night that he would be pitching out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season. The 22-year-old was 1-2 with a 4.11 ERA for the Red Sox. He is 8-3, 2.88 in 16 starts in the minors.

“Everybody involved thinks that this kid has a chance to impact us going forward this year in the bullpen,” Francona said. “Now that in no way means we [don’t] also view him as a starter. He’s going to be a starter, a major-league starter. But I think for the rest of the year he maybe has a chance to impact us out of the bullpen.”

Francona said he thought Doubront would be pleased with the idea because it would give him another chance to pitch in the majors. But here’s what Doubront said on July 5 when asked about the idea of working out of the ‘pen:

“Not really … I don’t know about that. It’s not easy. The transition from a starter to a reliever, it’s not easy. It’s something where you have to work for six months or a complete year. I don’t know about that. … It would just be hard.”

But the Sox like what Doubront could bring to the mix as a reliever.

“He throws strikes, he’s quick to the plate, the game doesn’t speed up [for him]. The one thing is he hasn’t done it. He’s been groomed as a starter, so getting up in the middle of the game, there’s some things to get used to,” Francona said.

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Doubront pitched 5.1 innings on Thursday, so his first appearance out of the Pawtucket pen probably won’t be until Tuesday at the earliest.

This is one of those times when player development takes a back seat to the needs of the major-league team. Doubront threw 129 innings in 2008, 121 last year and so far this season 93.1. Pitching in relief will not help his progression in terms of handling a workload as a starter. But that’s the way it goes.

The Sox did the same thing with Michael Bowden a few weeks ago. He was stellar in relief for Pawtucket, came up and pitched in only three games for the Sox before being sent back down.

Francona said the Sox liked what they saw from Bowden in relief.

“I think we are excited about that,” Francona said. “We weren’t real excited about having to send him back.”

Which raises the question of why Bowden isn’t on the roster.

In other news:

* A team source just said the Red Sox have nothing “immediate” on the trade front. There is interest from other teams in Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen. Such a move would allow them to bring Bowden back up.

Ramirez, meanwhile, just left batting practice after getting hit with a ball. It looked like it got him in the face.

* Francona on whether the Sox will make a move today: “That’s … I don’t know. … I have no idea. If you ask Theo, I don’t know if he knows.”

* J.D. Drew is in the lineup and this time the Sox hope he stays there. Drew said his strained left hamstring felt strong enough to play, so we’ll see what transpires after batting practice.

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* Mike Cameron is too sore to start today. The Sox asked him to check in this morning and he wasn’t doing well.

* The Mike Lowell Limbo continues. He’s here but not on the roster. Obviously they’re trying to trade him.

* Francona poked fun at a comment Hideki Okajima made to ESPN about being lonely in the bullpen. “I think he gets lonely when he gives up runs,” he said.

If that’s the case, he must be powerfully lonely.

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