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Doubront's improved fastball command key

Doubront's improved fastball command key

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If the early indications mean anything, Felix Doubront could be in for a big year. Doubront stayed ahead of the count and ahead of his past performance in his second outing of the spring Friday, when he worked four scoreless innings for Boston in a 4-1 win over Atlanta.

Doubront has now worked six scoreless innings in Spring Training, but it's the way he's going about his business that has earned him attention. Boston manager John Farrell praised Doubront for his efficiency and composure Friday, and he said the lefty is getting better at fixing his mistakes.

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"The one thing we've seen in Felix's two starts -- when he's misfired on a given pitch, he's making the adjustment on the very next one. That, to me, is probably as encouraging a sign as any so far," said Farrell. "He's been efficient. He was originally scheduled for three innings today, but the pitch count was so low we sent him back out for a fourth. He's in a comfortable place right now."

Indeed, Doubront was rarely challenged, and he faced the minimum amount of batters through three innings. Doubront allowed a single but coaxed a double play from Chris Johnson in the third inning, and he allowed a leadoff hit but didn't allow the runner to advance in the fourth.

"I think he's night and day to last year for me," said Boston catcher David Ross, who ushered Doubront through Friday's game. "He's repeating pitches and repeating location. He's able to fix his mechanics mid-game. You know, fastball command is everything for me as a catcher. He's doing a lot better job for me of knowing how to move the ball around the zone just strictly with his fastball."

Doubront also thrived last spring, when he worked to a 3.00 ERA in five starts for Boston. The 26-year-old was a little more erratic in the regular season, but he logged a 4.32 ERA for the Red Sox and made two relief appearances in the team's World Series victory over the Cardinals.

But now, he's turning the head of his manager and his catcher by simply repeating his best pitch. Doubront's improved fastball command has yielded improved confidence on the mound, and he said he has a very simple formula to get himself ready for the start of the regular season.

"Just repeating my delivery," he said. "Repeating my pitches. Throwing strikes. Compared to last year, there's less to work on right now. I'm going to keep doing that and wait until the season starts."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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