Doubront excels in 6 IP vs. Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. -- After Felix Doubront’s last start, Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said the left-hander lacked a “killer pitch” and didn’t attack hitters. Those grumblings were not heard after Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Miami Marlins.

In his longest start of the spring, Doubront went six innings and allowed one run. He lowered his spring ERA from 3.38 to 2.70. In total, he has struck out 11 and walked six in 18 2/3 innings.

Basically, he’s been a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter.

“He’s progressed as well as anyone in camp,” Valentine said. “He’s done what we asked for.”

With an open debate about Daniel Bard’s lack of a third pitch and Alfredo Aceves' struggling in Saturday’s split-squad game in Fort Myers, Doubront’s fairly clean, 78-pitch outing looks a little better.

He walked one, struck out two and allowed five hits, including a Gaby Sanchez double that just caught the left-field line and a solo homer to Austin Kearns. Doubront finished off several 1-2 counts, induced two double plays, threw his curveball for strikes and reached 94 mph with his fastball.

“He kept his composure and he pitched well. It was a positive outing,” Valentine said.

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI single off Marlins starter Wade LeBlanc, has spent parts of four seasons with Doubront in Boston’s farm system. He said it was one of the lefty's better games.

“I don’t want to limit him and say that was his best, but he threw the ball tremendously today,” Lavarnway said. “He was aggressive from the start. He filled up the strike zone with all four pitches. He went right at guys. I haven’t seen him throw that well in a long time.

“You can see that look in his eye that he means business. He wants to not only pitch in the big leagues, but be successful and be in the Boston Red Sox starting rotation.”

* Valentine played along with a joke that Pedro Ciriaco might skip Fenway and head straight for Cooperstown. The 26-year-old infielder, who played second base next to Jose Iglesias, went 2-for-3 with a double and run scored. That raised his already gaudy batting splits to .441/.457/.676.

With Iglesias, Mike Aviles and Nick Punto ahead of him, Ciriaco isn’t a candidate for a roster spot. But Valentine clearly enjoys having him around.

“How about Ciriaco,” he said. “I’m telling you. Everyone’s talking about the shortstop situation ... he’s a very good player. I’m telling you.”

Lest anyone think he was ready to move Ciriaco up the depth chart, Valentine tempered his enthusiasm: “Well, he’s played very well. He has very good talent, and he’s played very well.”

* Lars Anderson went 0-3, dropping his numbers to .357/.457/.567.

* There was no pregame lineup card exchange between Valentine and Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. The managers left those duties to coaches Joey Espada (Marlins) and Jerry Royster (Red Sox). Reporters sitting in the press box were unable to see if the managers waved at each other from their opposing dugouts.