Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/9/12
Los-angeles-dodgers-boston
At the end of the 2011 season, Felix Doubront was reeling from an injury-plagued campaign. Groin and hamstring strains, as well as elbow tightness, sidetracked the pitcher's ascension to the majors. Upon completing that Triple-A season, Doubront made it a priority to sharpen up his physique in order to enjoy an injury-free 2012 season. One year later, Doubront accomplished his mission. Despite one trip to the disabled list in August -- which was more for rest than injury -- Doubront compiled an 11-10 record with a 4.86 ERA and 167 strikeouts through a career-high 161 innings. "That was one of my goals," Doubront told NESN.com in Spanish. "I wanted to work hard to have a successful season without injury. It was a tough year, but it was very positive in the sense that I was able to finish on a strong note and do so healthy. That was one of my goals." It was one of many objectives that Doubront achieved. Entering spring training, the lefty sensed the pressure to make the Red Sox roster, especially since he didn't have any minor league options remaining on his contract. Amid the circumstances, Doubront dazzled en route to earning a spot in Boston's rotation. During the first three months of the season, the 24-year-old was arguably the team's best pitcher, having tallied an 8-3 record and 4.31 ERA by June 20. But in August and the first parts of September, Doubront regressed, failing to advance past the fifth inning in five straight starts. At one point, the Red Sox contemplated shutting him down for the season, thinking he'd hit the rookie wall. In a meeting with then-Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, Doubront expressed his desire to continue pitching -- and correct his mistakes. Fortunately for the southpaw, Valentine gave him a chance, and he rewarded his manager for it by logging four straight quality starts to finish the year. "I tried to do some things that, honestly, I was doing before, but got away from," Doubront said, specifically saying he wanted to work faster on the mound and become more efficient with pitches. "The last few starts were very strong for me and I felt great about my performance. I just tried to simplify it and pitch -- pitch, pitch, pitch and just get quick outs. Everything I put into those five days of training leading up to each of my starts was positive and you could see that through the results." In each of his last two starts, Doubront tallied double-digit strikeouts, fanning 11 and 10 batters, respectively. It punctuated a banner year for Doubront, one that started with a slew of question marks surrounding his health and future with the organization. "I took something from each start and it was a positive experience looking back," Doubront said. "I had my ups and downs ... but I'm glad I got to show everyone who Felix Doubront really is." Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.
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