Felix Doubront showed up at the Boston Red Sox’ spring training facility last week out-of-shape, not exactly what Red Sox’ manager John Farrell was hoping for when pitchers and catchers reported for the first time.
Instead of the 25-year-old lefty coming to camp, ready to show that he was ready to take the next step in his development with the Red Sox, he came to camp in poor condition with a sore left shoulder, raising more questions about his long-term future with the team.
See, this isn’t the first time that Doubront has come to camp out-of-shape when he had a chance to make a strong impression.
In 2011, Doubront came to camp and had to work his way into shape that year as well. The lack of conditioning cost Doubront a shot at the 2011 Opening Day roster and caused him to struggle with minor injuries all season.
It was a lost season and hopefully a lesson learned.
If the Red Sox training staff had the proper conversation with him at the time, they shouldn’t have to be revisiting that conversation two years later.
Doubront’s lack of maturity might be starting to impact his future with the Red Sox.
Doubront showed flashes of his great potential last season while compiling an 11-10 record for the Red Sox with a 4.86 ERA and an average of 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Doubront’s poor conditioning might have led to his inability to pitch deep into games and his sluggish second half of the season.
Pedro Martinez for one has noticed. He has stated that it is not a matter of talent level with the young pitcher, but a choice of mental preparation and making the right choices.
Red Sox’ general manager Ben Cherington has stated that the starters need to be ready to take the ball 30 times and he has said that Doubront will be ready for the start of the season.
If Doubront plans to be in the Red Sox’ plans for the future, then he needs to take control of his future now.
Tom Verducci has already stated that Doubront is at risk for arm issues due to the almost 90 inning jump in his innings between the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
This isn’t 40 years ago when players would come to camp to get in shape. Baseball and baseball conditioning is now a year round, full-time job. It is something that Doubront needs to learn quickly.
Doubront has the ability to make sure that he separates himself this season from the coming wave of young starting pitchers coming through the system in the coming years, but he can’t do it from the disabled list.
Hopefully it is a lesson that Doubront learns before it is too late.
You can reach Jonathan Cullen:
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Writing about the Boston Red Sox at www.baseballslate.com