BOSTON -- At 2-4 with a 5.12 ERA, Red Sox starting pitcher Felix Doubront has dealt with his share of struggles this season. But he had never dealt with what he felt Tuesday night.
"During the game, I was feeling like I couldn't feel my shoulder," Doubront said. "Weird. It felt weird."
Doubront lasted just more than four innings, giving up five runs before being pulled by manager John Farrell in the fifth after serving up back-to-back doubles in the Red Sox's 7-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox later said Doubront's departure was because of left shoulder fatigue. The 26-year-old will undergo an MRI and be re-evaluated Wednesday morning.
"This is the first night he's felt it to this extent," Farrell said. "His stuff was diminishing even in the early innings, particularly between the fourth and the fifth."
After a rough April that saw Doubront surrender 20 runs (16 earned) on 30 hits in 24 innings, the left-hander seemed to be turning the page in May, posting a 2.55 ERA in three starts and putting together consecutive strong outings against Cincinnati and Minnesota. Doubront had a strong first inning Tuesday night, needing only 11 pitches to work around an error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts and retire the side without having a ball leave the infield.
But Doubront began to struggle in the second inning. After getting Brett Lawrie to ground out, Doubront failed to find the strike zone while facing Toronto designated hitter Dioner Navarro. On his fourth consecutive ball, an 88 mph fastball, Doubront knew something was wrong. He described the feeling as something similar to numbness.
"I noticed that I wasn't feeling the grip in my hand," Doubront said. "Started feeling that the more I threw.
"[There was] no pain. No feeling. ... I don't know, no feeling for [anything]."
Doubront was able to escape the inning unharmed after working around another walk, but the fatigue caught up to him in the third. The left-hander allowed a double to Melky Cabrera before being taken deep by Edwin Encarnacion to fall behind 2-0. In the fourth, Doubront allowed another home run, this time to catcher Erik Kratz.
By the fifth inning, Doubront began to rely on his cut fastball, with doubles by both Jose Reyes and Cabrera coming on 83 mph cutters.
"A couple of hits he threw an 85 mph heater; I know that's not him," catcher David Ross said. "He kind of was cutting his fastball all day, which tells me he wasn't trusting to release it. He was getting away with it early on but it came back to bite him as the game went on."
Doubront said the fatigue was mainly affecting his release point and location, and that he didn't mention anything to Ross or any of the team's coaches regarding what he was dealing with on the mound. However, Doubront eventually relented, calling over pitching coach Juan Nieves after the second Cabrera double.
"When he came out in the fifth inning, it was clear the overall power to his stuff had started to diminish," Farrell said. "He felt some restriction in the shoulder, he wasn't able to generate normal arm speed and that's why we had to get him out of the game at that point."
Farrell said no roster move has been determined regarding Doubront, as the team will await the results of his MRI before making a decision on whether to replace the left-hander in the rotation.
"Right now, I can't feel it," Doubront said of his shoulder. "Just wait until tomorrow to see what kind of tightness is there."