Manny Ramirez returned to Fenway Park on Friday night with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but 22 year old Felix Doubront stole the show, leading the Sox to a 10-6 win over L.A. The native of Carabobo (sounds like a fun place to live), Venezuela worked into the sixth inning, allowing three earned runs on six hits, rewarding the faith of Terry Francona in his Major League debut. More than likely, Doubront will soon return to McCoy to continue to refine his game. He did, however, make quite a first impression on Red Sox Nation.
Think about what Doubront has done so far in 2010. He has at least one win at three different levels of baseball. At Double A Portland, where he began the season, Felix went 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA. With the PawSox, he went 2-1 with a microscopic earned run average of 1.08 with 16 strikeouts in 16.2 innings. Now he’s 1-0 as a Major Leaguer.
The one word everyone seems to use when describing Doubront is poise. From Torey Lovullo to Tito Francona, that’s the common thread. The 6’2 200 pounder has composure. It’s not something you can coach or teach. You can learn to keep cool under stress. Doubront has already got it mastered. He is cooler than Fonzie packed in ice. His own teammates know it. After a recent start at McCoy, catcher Dusty Brown told me that it isn’t something everybody has, but Doubront definitely is blessed.
Think about what you were doing at age 22. I was floundering down in Florida in my first post-college job. Politics? Didn’t get it. Diplomacy? Had no idea what that was. Women? Forget it. I was a lost soul. I look at this kid and I am absolutely amazed by him. Sure, the pitching is terrific, but like most others who’ve come in contact with him, he blows you away with his maturity. He has been at the business of baseball since he signed a free agent deal as a 16 year old in 2004. He has slowly and steadily worked his way up the organizational ladder, winning awards and making All Star teams along the way. It seems like 2010 is his breakout year. Before the start of the 2009 season, “Baseball America” rated him the #27 prospect in the system. “Sox Prospects.com” currently ranks him as #7. Pretty good jump.
With Doubront starting for the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka, it has to be a very comforting feeling for the Sox brass. Everyone thought the Red Sox had too much starting pitching at the beginning of this season. Dice-K has been in and out and Josh Beckett has been a non-factor due to injury. Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey have been toting the mail for the resurgent Sox. It looks like there is help available, and it is Felix Doubront.
Seattles’ Felix Hernandez may already have the nickname “King Felix”. So what. He’s out on the west coast. We have a “King Felix” ourselves, and he was coronated on Friday night. As I said, he will probably be back at McCoy very soon, and if you don’t show up to watch him pitch, I will personally have you committed.