FORT MYERS, Fla. — Felix Doubront was a disappointment to the Red Sox in spring training last season, arriving so out of shape that he missed a start while getting in better condition.
The lefthander pitched well early in the season before, somewhat predictably, wearing down in August.
A year later, Doubront is stronger and clearly more confident. The results reflect that.
Doubront pitched four shutout innings in Friday’s 4-1 victory against the Atlanta Braves. He allowed two hits without a walk and struck out three. Doubront threw only 39 pitches, 28 of them strikes.
He was scheduled to go three innings but stayed in the game because of a low pitch count. In two starts this spring, Doubront has thrown six shutout innings and struck out six. He has allowed three hits and no walks.
“The one thing we’ve seen in Felix’s two starts is that when he’s misfired on a given pitch, he’s making the adjustment on the very next one,” manager John Farrell said. “That’s, to me, probably as encouraging a sign as any so far. He’s ahead in the count, he’s been efficient.”
Doubront has focused on repeating his delivery and staying in a better flow on the mound.
“Get ahead and get quick outs,” he said. “It’s a lot different than last year. I’m trying to do the little things and be more focused. That’s one of my goals.”
Gains for Grady
Grady Sizemore was 2 for 3 and took second on a wild pitch, sliding in to beat the throw from Braves catcher Gerald Laird.
Sizemore hustled to beat out an infield hit in the first inning, then had a line-drive single in the third. The outfielder is one of the surprises of camp after missing two consecutive seasons with injuries.
“He did a number of things today we haven’t seen yet,” Farrell said.
Sizemore isn’t seeking out particular situations. But he’s passing physical tests as they occur in games.
“I’m not thinking about anything out there,” he said. “It’s not one of those things where I’m hesitant or worried about anything. If I were thinking along those lines, I wouldn’t be ready to play.”
Sizemore will get two days off before playing again Monday. He is not expected to play back-to-back games until later next week.
“The only question that we have right now is answering the durability one,” Farrell said.
Victorino, Peavy get closer
Farrell expects Shane Victorino to play in his first game early next week. The right fielder has been held out to work on strengthening core muscles that bothered him at times last season.
“He’s making solid progress,” Farrell said. “More range of motion in all his activities on the field and is responding very favorably at this point.”
Righthander Jake Peavy will throw an extended bullpen session Saturday, essentially a simulated game without batters. The righthander is recovering from a deep cut on his left index finger and cannot yet catch a ball.
“The wound is healing satisfactorily,” Farrell said. “Given all things considered, he’s making good progress with it.”
Peavy is scheduled to start Thursday against the Twins.
If Peavy stays on that schedule, he should be able to make the Opening Day roster.
“If my math is right, that gives him four starts here,” said Farrell. “We’re not going to skip steps but we feel like there is ample time to ramp him up.”
Farrell offered no apologies for fielding a lineup of little-known players against the Marlins Thursday.
The Sun Sentinel reported that Miami officials were “outraged.” But a team spokesman said Friday that no complaint was filed to Major League Baseball.
Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington e-mailed an apology regarding the lineup.
Major league rules require teams to have a lineup with at least four players who are regulars or have a reasonable chance to being regulars. The Red Sox used one player who fit that definition — Jackie Bradley Jr. — in Thursday’s 0-0 game in Jupiter.
Farrell said he was aware of the Marlins being upset but was comfortable with lineup he used.
“You can’t speak to what goes on inside another team’s camp,” he said. “There are reasons why they bring a team that they do.”
Farrell said the starting infielders stayed behind to work with coach Brian Butterfield on positioning in shifts. The Red Sox also were missing several regulars with injuries.
“We had work and injuries we were contending with,” Farrell said. “I thought we played a pretty darned good game.”
All signed up
The Red Sox agreed to terms with 19 players on the 40-man roster with 0-3 years of service time.
Like most teams, the Red Sox adjust salaries over the minimum of $500,000 based on service time in the majors and performance.
As such, Doubront ($586,000), Daniel Nava ($556,500) and Will Middlebrooks ($540,000) were the highest-paid of the group.
Brandon Workman ($518,000), Xander Bogaerts ($517,000), Ryan Lavarnway ($510,000) and Rubby De La Rosa ($504,000) were on the next tier, followed by Alex Wilson ($503,500), Drake Britton ($503,000), Brock Holt ($503,000), Bradley ($502,000), Allen Webster ($502,000), and Steven Wright ($502,000).
Bryce Brentz, Dan Butler, Garin Cecchini, Alex Hassan, Anthony Ranaudo, and Christian Vazquez received $500,000.
The Associated Press reported that the city of Pawtucket has reached an agreement with the PawSox to stay in the city through at least 2021 . . . Francisco Cordero, the 38-year-old reliever making a comeback after sitting out last season, picked up the save. He has thrown three scoreless innings, striking out five without a walk.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.