Takeaways: Doubront drops the ball

March, 23, 2014
Mar 23
10:21
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where David Ortiz learned he’s $16 million richer but still can’t buy a hit, Felix Doubront insists his back-to-back stinkers are merely the spring-training blues, Brandon Workman showed why he’ll be on the plane to Baltimore, Xander Bogaerts’ bat showed signs of warming up, and the Sox might want to mix in a win once in a while, just to remember what it feels like.

The result: The Sox lost 9-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays and are 1-7-1 in their last nine games. Their only win was a St. Paddy’s Day 10-5 beating of the Cardinals, the only time in the last dozen games they have scored more than four runs. They have scored a total of a dozen runs in their last six games and didn’t collect their first hit until there was one out in the seventh, when Bogaerts lined a single off Rays reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, who was pitching in a game for the first time since missing all of last season because of Tommy John surgery.

The day’s headline: The extension agreed upon with Ortiz, who is guaranteed $16 million in 2015 and can trigger options for 2016 and ’17 if he achieves a certain number of plate appearances. That $16 million, by the way, is worth 689,785,707 Dominican pesos, according to the current exchange rate.

The Sox could announce the deal as soon as Monday for Ortiz, who will have to wait at least another day before he tries improve upon his .057 average. Ortiz has two hits this spring, which is of course two more than he had all of last spring, when he didn't play a lick and went on to win the World Series MVP in October.

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertMike Napoli pats Felix Doubront on the back during Doubront's second consecutive shaky outing.
Doubie drops the ball: Literally. Left-hander Doubront lost his grip on the ball in mid-delivery, the ball rolling onto the grass halfway to the third-base line. He was charged with a balk. The rest of his afternoon wasn’t much better, as the Rays launched many of his deliveries that actually reached the plate at will, cranking out 10 hits and scoring eight runs before Doubront was excused with one out in the fifth.

Doubront was lit up last week in Tampa by the Yankees, with manager John Farrell suggesting he might be going through the dead-arm stage. David Ross, who was behind the plate Sunday, said Doubront just needs to sharpen up his fastball command. “It’ll come,’’ Ross said.

Doubront had been the early talk of camp, showing up in prime condition, commanding the strike zone, displaying added strength in a left shoulder that didn’t hold up for an entire summer in 2013.

His last two starts? In eight innings, he has allowed 15 earned runs on 20 hits and five walks. “It’s spring training,’’ said Doubront, who departed after Matt Joyce took him deep for a three-run home run.

“My mechanics and my arm feels great,’’ he said. “I just left the ball a little behind in my release point. It's nothing to worry about, just keep working and be better next time.’’

Farrell was inclined to agree.

“A number of mislocated pitches, particularly when he was trying to go to arm side,’’ Farrell said. “He ended up pulling some balls back across to the plate. But I think, considering the way you evaluate his stuff the last time out against the Yankees compared to today, he was improved. And I think he’s coming through that dead-arm period.’’

The Sox have Doubront slotted in the third spot in the rotation, and he has all the ingredients for a breakout season. But if that doesn’t materialize, the Sox have a veteran left-hander in the bullpen, Chris Capuano, who has been nothing but a starter his entire career.

The X file: In the day’s most anxiety-inducing moment, Bogaerts smoked a line drive headed directly at the head of Rays left-hander Matt Moore, who appeared to deflect the ball before it struck him in the mouth, cutting his lip badly enough to require stitches. Moore retrieved the ball and threw out Bogaerts for the final out of the fourth, but left the game so the Rays medical staff could tend to him.

“I thought he caught it,’’ said Bogaerts, who had hesitated coming out of the box. “I definitely didn’t think it got him in his face. It wasn’t my intention, obviously. I wish him nothing but the best. Hopefully he’ll have a good recovery.’’

Bogaerts’ liner in the seventh broke up the no-no. It also raised his average to .200.

“These last four games, I’ve been swinging the bat really good,” he said. “Before that, I was terrible.”

JBJ report: Jackie Bradley Jr. pinch hit for Ortiz and struck out.

Dot, dot, dots: Workman, odds-on favorite to open the season in Craig Breslow’s slot in the bullpen, worked 3 2/3 innings of long relief, giving up a run on three hits. A long man is precisely what Farrell is looking for if Breslow opens the season on the DL, as expected. ... The Sox tweaked the schedule of center fielder Grady Sizemore, who played Sunday in what was to have been part of three straight games played. Farrell said Sizemore will sit out Monday’s game, then play the next three in a row. Nothing happened to cause the change, Farrell said. Sizemore looked mortal for a change Sunday, going 0-for-4, striking out twice and hitting into a double play. ... Breslow will pitch in a minor-league game Monday, his first game appearance this spring. Breslow will not pitch in a big-league game here, so that the Sox can activate him quicker should he begin the season on the DL. It’s a procedural thing. ... Drake Britton is scheduled to make the start against the Orioles in Sarasota Monday, with Jake Peavy remaining behind to pitch a minor-league game. The Sox don’t want Peavy to face the Orioles, the same reason why Jon Lester will pitch a minor-league game Wednesday instead of facing the Orioles here. The Sox open the season in Baltimore.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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