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Saturday, July 31, 2010
Doubront's role changing

By Joe McDonald

BOSTON -- If Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein does not acquire bullpen help before Saturday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, the club is confident it can find the answer internally.

Manager Terry Francona said Saturday that the team is converting lefthanded prospect Felix Doubront from a starter to a reliever at Triple-A Pawtucket with the goal of adding him to the Red Sox bullpen after he gets acclimated to his new role.

“Bringing a kid right from starting, especially when the majority of his innings are in the minor leagues, you put him in the bullpen and [bring him into a game] with runners on, that’s not fair to him,” Francona said. “We’ll give him some time to get his feet wet in the bullpen.”

Pawtucket Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo told Doubront Friday night of his role change. The lefthander has made three starts for Boston this season and has posted a 1-2 record with a 4.11 ERA over 15 innings.

“I have not got a report back on how that meeting went, but I’m assuming it went pretty well,” Francona said. “Everybody in Boston thinks this kid has a chance to impact us going forward this year in the bullpen. We view him as a starter and he’s going to be a starter, a major league starter.”

The 22-year-old signed with the Red Sox as an international free agent on July 12, 2004, and he’s impressed during his time in the organization. Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell has spoke highly of Doubront’s abilities time and again, and Francona concurs with his assessments.

Doubront throws strikes, he’s quick to the plate and he doesn’t allow the game to speed up on him.

“He’s been groomed as a starter, so getting up in the middle of the game he’ll have some things to get used to,” Francona said.

The Red Sox will also rely on starter-turned-reliever Michael Bowden down the stretch. He was recently recalled to Boston for a week before being optioned back to Triple-A because there’s no room on the roster.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” Francona said. “We weren’t real excited about having to send him back.”