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Felix Doubront says shoulder feels good, believes he can regain velocity

06.13.14 at 8:36 pm ET
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Felix Doubront‘s shoulder is getting stronger. Strong enough, he says, to replicate the kind of velocity that he had as a 24-year-old in his first full major league season in 2012.

Two starts into his rehab assignment with a third coming on Sunday, Doubront says his shoulder is feeling “pretty good.” It’s been almost four weeks since Doubront’s last outing with the Red Sox back on May 20.

Doubront had struggled in his first nine outings of 2014 before hitting a car door with his shoulder and subsequently hitting the disabled list with a shoulder strain, posting a 5.12 ERA and 1.555 WHIP in 45 2/3 innings. His strikeouts were down (6.3 per nine innings, a far cry from 2012, when he averaged over one per inning), and his declining fastball velocity may be one of the culprits for the falling K rates.

Doubront’€™s fastball velocity, which sat around an average of 90 mph during his nine major league starts this season, dipped even lower in his two rehab starts, sitting in the high 80s and only occasionally touching above 90. While Doubront was working up strength in his injured shoulder, he says that he’€™s close to feeling like he did before the injury, and that the velocity will come.

“Since I started rehabbing, working my shoulder — [it] feels really good and really loose. That’€™s the thing I need to feel better,” Doubront said. “€œOver the past two rehab starts I [felt] great, [was] throwing strikes, getting a feel for all my pitches. Velocity is not there but I’€™m building my strength to get to that level. I’€™m gonna step it up a little bit more on Sunday.”

The dip in velocity has been an issue for longer than just the first couple months of 2014. Doubront saw a decline last season as well; while he was sitting 92-93 mph and touching 95-96 mph in 2012, he averaged just 90.6mph on his fastball in 2013. He says that his shoulder feels strong enough to possibly ramp up his fastball to the place it was two years ago.

“It’€™s getting to that point [where] it’€™s really close and I can feel the power, not even from last year but from 2012 when I was throwing 95 or 96. I’€™m getting there,” said Doubront. “It’€™s really strong right now and I’m going to keep working to get it to the top.”

Though the velocity is obviously a concern for Doubront when it comes to being effective, he says that it’s not his main focus for his next outing, nor has it been for either of his previous rehab appearances.

“My first rehab start, it was more locating my fastball and throwing strikes without thinking I have to throw hard,” Doubront said. “The second was kind of the same, thinking I’€™m gonna pitch and not throw, and that’€™s more important than to throw hard. When I get to the point where I [can] throw the hardest I can for strikes or in counts to get the hitter out with a hard fastball, I’€™m focused more on that area, throwing strikes rather than throwing hard.

“€œRepeating my delivery, throwing a lot of fastballs, throwing all my pitches and trying to throw strikes. That’€™s the main focus right now.”

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