A Cat Named Felix Arrives

I was in spring training for about a week, and the last time that I saw the PawSox play, Felix Doubront was Pawtucket’s starting pitcher even though it appeared likely that he would open the season in Portland.  On Thursday, after Doubront was promoted from Double-A, I asked PawSox manager Torey Lovullo what he remembered about that outing in Ft. Myers.


Doubront re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


“Fastball command down in the zone . . . good movement . . . the plane of his ball is angled downward . . . and a short breaking ball to both left-handed and right-handed batters,” Lovullo said.  “He’s got great mound presence and for a 22-year-old, it’s not always like that.  A young kid has to build that type of stuff and he looks great when he steps on the mound.”


Did Lovullo suspect in March that Doubront would eventually pitch for Pawtucket at some point this season?


“I was hoping that we would have him on April 8th (opening day).  But obviously, as far as player development goes, they had a great plan and didn’t want to rush him along.  He told us by his performance that he was ready to move up.  I think the team was 8-0 in the games that he started.  He was keeping Portland in games and that’s all that we ask.  The numbers indicated that he was ready for this challenge.”


In eight starts for the Sea Dogs, Doubront was 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA (43 IP, 39 H, 12 ER, 17 BB, 38 K).  The lefty from Venezuela was told that he was being called-up after Portland’s game on Tuesday night.


“I was keeping the pitching chart and when the game was over our pitching coach said, ‘Don’t go yet.  We need you to stay for a few minutes.’ Doubront said.  “So they called me into the office and told me that I got promoted to Pawtucket.  It’s the next step toward getting to Boston so I’m really happy.  It was my goal so I’m enjoying the moment.  I’m going to do my best to get to the big leagues.”


This winter, Felix was ranked as the #18 prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America after going 8-6 with a 3.35 ERA for Portland last season.  But he undoubtedly would have been ranked higher after spring training, as Doubront tossed 7 scoreless innings in 3 appearances (2 starts) for Boston. 


“I’ve been pounding the strike zone,” Doubront said.  “I’ve been getting ahead in the count and throwing quality pitches.  That’s what I’ve been working on in my side sessions – pounding the zone with my fastball.”


The fifth-year pro throws his fastball in the low 90’s, and is also known for having an outstanding changeup.


“I was 16 years old when I signed with the Red Sox and I already had a good changeup.” Doubront told me.  “That was what I was recognized for when the scouts saw me.  I’ve been working on it year after year and I feel like it’s much better than it was six years ago.  I can throw it with conviction whenever I want to, and it’s a big pitch for me.”


Doubront will make his Triple-A debut on Sunday at Durham.  His first start at McCoy Stadium is likely to be on Saturday, May 29th.


* * * * *


I have a marked parking spot at McCoy Stadium that I rarely use during games for the following reason:  My windshield has been busted twice by foul balls that carried over the stadium roof.


Former PawSox broadcaster Dave Fleming – now part of the Giants radio crew – suffered similar misfortune last weekend in San Francisco.


After the San Diego Padres took batting practice at AT & T Park, pitcher Mats Latos tossed a ball into the stands.  Unfortunately, the ball bounced off the concourse and landed in the player’s parking lot where it smashed through the sun roof of Fleming’s new Honda Civic.


“I’ve heard people are saying I threw it over the Coke bottle. That’s not even close to true,” Latos told the San Jose Mercury News. “Look, people are going to believe whatever they want to believe. If they send me a bill, I’ll pay it. I’m sorry it happened and I’ll be responsible for it. But I didn’t know there was a parking lot back there. I wasn’t trying to throw it out of the stadium.”


According to published reports, the Giants plan to forward a repair bill to Latos.


* * * * *


Torey Lovullo’s second stop as a minor league manager was Kinston, NC of the Carolina League and one of the people he grew close to was a woman named Evelyn Kornegay.  “Mama” as she was lovingly known, housed more than 150 Kinston Indians players over the years – including Victor Martinez – and was one of the team’s biggest and most beloved fans.



(photo courtesy of the Kinston Free Press)


“It’s hard to describe what she meant unless you’ve been in that community and seen the beauty of her heart,” Lovullo said.  “My first introduction to her was at a hot stove banquet in the off-season and she said, ‘From now own you call me Mama.  I take care of my boys and you’re one of my boys now.’  She had an uncanny knack for caring when she didn’t need to and loving when she knew nothing else, and she was a special lady.”


Mama Kornegay died last week of pancreatic cancer at the age of 81.  A visitation will take place at Grainger Stadium on Friday night in Kinston.  The funeral will be held on Saturday afternoon at United American Free Will Baptist Tabernacle and Lovullo hopes to attend.


“I have a very strong connection to her and I’ve stayed in touch with her over the years – just to tell her how I was doing and it was always nice to hear her say, ‘I love you,’ Lovullo said.  “Now that we’re going to be in Durham, we’ll be an hour and a half from the funeral that day and I feel like I have to be there.  Hopefully I can make it.” 


Here’s a great story about Mama Kornegay written by mlb.com’s Benjamin Hill.


* * * * *


We’ve mentioned in recent weeks that PawSox outfielder Daniel Nava leaves a ticket for ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews on the player’s pass list at every Pawtucket road game.  Here’s proof:


Erin Andrews on pass list.jpg 

Erin has been busy competing in Dancing With The Stars and has advanced to the final three couples.  Since the competition is nearly finished, perhaps she’ll be able to take Nava up on his generous offer sometime soon.


* * * * *


Bubba Bell singled in the 9th inning of Pawtucket’s 8-1 loss in Norfork on Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.  


He also signed a ball for a big fan named Ted after the game.


Bubba ball.jpg 

Since I mentioned Ted and posted this photo, he and the friends that I met outside the clubhouse are now required to check out my blog on a daily basis.


* * * * *


The PawSox conclude their 4-game series in Norfolk on Friday at 7:15.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 7:00 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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