|John Farrell looking for ‘progression and improvement’ from Felix Doubront in 2014||02.24.14 at 4:16 pm ET|
Doubront isn’t trying to pick up where he left off in 2013, but rather replicate the success he found over a three-month stretch of the season when the team – and rotation – needed him the most. Accomplishing that is key building upon a season that was a stepping stone to what could be bigger and better things for the Venezuelan lefty.
Last season, he posted his second straight 11-win season, making 27 starts, compiling a 4.32 ERA and a 1.429 WHIP. But for a stretch of 16 starts, June through August, there was no one more reliable in the Red Sox rotation. When Clay Buchholz went down over that stretch, Doubront and a sub-3.00 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.
On Monday, he showed the stuff that made him so effective keeping his offspeed and breaking pitches down in the zone, creating swings and misses to Bogaerts (righthanded) and Sizemore (lefty).
“He’s throwing the ball well,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s come into camp in better shape than years past. We look for a progression and improvement on last year. That’s ideally eliminating some of those peaks and valleys. He was on a long run from about early May for about a 16-start stretch where he was one of our more consistent starters. he’s an extremely talented guy. he’s got a couple things that really work for him: The overall pitch mix that he has, and he has shown us the ability to win on days where he doesn’t have his best stuff. I think that’s a testament to his savvy on the mound and the fact that he does generate some swing and miss.”
After getting lit up in September, including allowing five runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 innings in relief on Sept. 29, Doubront again found his groove in the playoffs, showing he can handle the pressure of playoff baseball. After not appearing in the series against Tampa Bay, he appeared twice in relief against the Tigers in the ALCS and twice out of the pen against the Cardinals in the World Series. He was spectacular, compiling a 1.29 ERA in seven innings, allowing just three hits and one run and a 0.857 WHIP.
|Felix Doubront, Edward Mujica, Jonathan Herrera among Venezuelans thinking of their brothers and sisters at home||at 1:22 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With unrest tearing apart their capital city thousands of miles and another hemisphere away, Red Sox players with ties to their homeland of Venezuela showed their solidarity Monday with protesters speaking out against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
There were barricades of pipes, trash and branches burning in the streets and the sound of banging of pots and pans in support of the protest movement against the country’s leader Monday. Traffic came to a halt in many parts of Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, as opposition protesters continued their campaign of nearly two weeks to demand changes to address rampant crime, food shortages and few jobs.
The protest was not nearly as strong or stark in Fort Myers but six Venezuelan players in camp with the Red Sox all offered their support and sympathy. Manager John Farrell said he has been in touch with his players and offered support on behalf of the organization.
“Very [supportive] because we do have a good number of players that do come from Venezuela and the pitchers that we’ve already met with one-on-one,” Farrell said. “We’re trying to get a feel for if their families are affected by it. And it seems like those players hail from areas a little bit further away from the big cities, Caracas in particular. It’s unfortunate with what they’re having to deal with there but, again, we’re sympathetic. If there are ever any needs that we can help with, we’ll certainly take a look at those. But, it’s unfortunate their families have to contend with something that is completely out of their control.”
Two of those players figure prominently in the team’s pitching plans and were at work throwing live batting practice on Monday morning.
Felix Doubront and Edward Mujica were among the group of players that stood in solidarity with others Monday holding a Venezuelan flag.
“We care about the people in the streets right now,” Mujica said Monday. “It’s big support from major league players right now. The good thing is my family is safe right now. There is no one in the center of the city. We live in a little town away from the city. They’re safe right now but they’re just keeping an eye on it. I call my family every single day and see what’s going on and try to get some news.
“I live in Miami. All my family members came down to be with me. It’s dangerous and it’s crazy to go out there and put yourself in a bad situation but the thing is it has to be different so players can go there and play winter ball and be more safe. It’s unbelievable. I think everybody in Minnesota [camp in Fort Myers] feels the same thing, trying to support them.”
Infielder Jonathan Herrera is the only position player on the 40-man roster who hails from Venezuela.
“It’s not easy because you think about your family and you see the news and see everything happening over there,” Herrera said. “But you need to go practice and focus and be ready to play baseball. But at the same time you have in the back of your mind [whether] your family home safe so that’s kind of difficult.
“The things out in the street, every city is kind of dangerous right now. A lot of things happen in the streets so you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Righthander Brayan Villarreal, left-hander Jose Mijares and infielder Heiker Meneses also call Venezuela home and are in camp as non-roster invitees. Meneses and Mijares hail from Caracas.
|New weapon for Michael Bowden?||02.13.11 at 10:48 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a winter filled with novelty for Red Sox pitcher Michael Bowden. He got married early in the offseason, spent some time at home in his native Illinois and then, for the first time in his career, played winter ball.
Some pitchers might view the sudden change of gears from his honeymoon to winter ball to be jarring. But Bowden embraced his time in Venezuela.
“The atmosphere there, the competitiveness, the experience of the games, the energy the fans bring — just to see a different country and how they respect the game and play the game, it was just awesome,” Bowden said upon reporting to spring training on Sunday. “I really enjoyed it.”
The 24-year-old viewed his time pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League as an opportunity to gain greater familiarity with life out of the bullpen. Since the Sox selected him in the sandwich round of the 2005 draft, he had spent each of his first five spring trainings getting stretched out as a starter.
This year, he expects to be preparing strictly as a reliever in Sox camp. He made 14 relief appearances in the majors with the Sox, ending the 2010 season with a 4.70 ERA while having struck out 13 and walked just four in his 15 1/3 innings. While his willingness to attack the strike zone was an asset out of the bullpen, the results were uneven — though he did get swings and misses and strikeouts, opponents had a .323 average, .364 OBP, .548 slugging mark and .912 OPS against him. His time in Venezuela helped to acclimate him to a role in which he started working full time in the middle of the 2010 season.
“Down there, I pitched in the eighth innings of some big games,” said Bowden. “They use pitchers a little bit differently there. I had to be ready for a lot of different roles. I experienced quite a bit. I only threw nine innings, but I threw quite a few outings. I’d go in there for a hitter or two hitters or an out. I experienced a lot of different roles and had to get ready and amped up for different situations.”
Bowden allowed three earned runs in nine innings in Venezuela, though he allowed 11 hits and seven walks (against six strikeouts) in his 10 appearances there. Still, he viewed the time as extremely productive, since it allowed him to experiment with a pitch that could be important to him going forward.
Last year, Bowden shelved his curveball completely, not throwing the pitch once while using the slider as his lone breaking ball. In Venezuela, he worked on developing a cutter — a pitch he had never thrown before. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bowden expects to remain in bullpen in 2011||09.22.10 at 1:03 pm ET|
It is an opportunity that Michael Bowden relishes. The 24-year-old right-hander will head to Venezuela following this season, where he will pitch out of the bullpen for Magallanas. The assignment represents not just a chance to hone his education as a reliever, but also to have new life experiences.
“I’m really excited,” said Bowden, who has been pitching out of the bullpen for the Sox for the first extended stretch this year after spending most of his six pro seasons as a starter. “I’ve never really been outside of the country. Not only that, but I get to play baseball, experience something that I’ve never experienced. I just get to play the game, learn how it’s played in different places. I’m excited about the lifestyle, getting to play baseball and learning, working on my game, fine-tuning some things I want to work on. I’m just very, very excited about going.”
The experience will likely prove valuable as Bowden prepares for the 2011 season, which is shaping up as his first full year as a bullpen guy. Bowden confirmed that, as of now, the plan for him is to report to spring training as a reliever.
“As of now, I’m going to winter ball to work on getting repetitions in the bullpen for next year,” said Bowden. “The plan as of now is to be a reliever [in 2011]. I enjoy it. There’s still a lot of learning to do.”
Bowden is hopeful that he will get roughly 15 appearances out of the bullpen for Magallanes, adding to his limited experience as a reliever. This year, the right-hander has pitched in 11 games for the Sox, and while his 5.25 ERA and 18 hits in 12 innings both suggest room to improve, he has shown some promise, striking out 10 batters and walking just two.
In his most recent outing, Bowden struck out three batters in a scoreless inning of work on Monday. He suggested that he worked with pitching coach John Farrell prior to the game on pitching down in the strike zone, and that the immediate results were satisfying.
“It felt good,” Bowden said of the outing. “I was working with [Farrell] in the bullpen, prior to the game, just to stay on top of the ball because I’d been up in the zone quite a bit. So I’ve just been working on staying down in the zone. I felt comfortable. I’m just glad that I was able to apply it and get results.”
Bowden is hoping to continue that development in Venezuela this coming offseason. It is an undertaking for which his enthusiasm is far-reaching.
“I’m going there for just over a month, hopefully about 15 appearances or so, get some work in. I’ve heard it’s a crazy atmosphere there. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” said Bowden. “Hopefully I’ll be pitching some meaningful innings, getting some good experience. Hopefully it will carry over into next year.
“How aggressive I can be, the execution of pitches, that’s going to come with more repetition. I feel like I’m getting ahold of it, but I know there’s still more there.”
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