In a season in which little has seemingly gone right for the Red Sox, a huge break befell them before Wednesday's game at Fenway Park. Felix Doubront, the Red Sox's young left-handed starter, had a Mo Rivera-esque incident in the outfield during batting practice, taking a batted ball off the side of his head. In a year already marred by injuries to key players, however, Doubront escaped serious damage.

"Whenever anybody comes off the field, you hold your breath, but he tested fine," manager Bobby Valentine said.

 

Where Doubront has been going lately is up, in the minds of fans, teammates and his manager. The 24-year-old lefty, who starts tonight against the Rays at Tropicana Field, is 3-1 with 4.46 ERA in his first season as a regular in the starting rotation.

 

Doubront had his best start of the season his last time out last Saturday, holding the Indians to one run on three hits over six innings in a 4-1 victory over Cleveland.

 

"I'm going to learn from every start," Doubront said after the game. "I'm learning. I'm getting better. I just need to throw more and that's it. I'm going to get better every day, every start, and I'm just waiting for that moment to go deeper into the game."

 

Doubront emerged in Spring Training as a viable starting candidate and has shown improvement over the course of his first full season. After allowing five runs over four innings against the A's on May 1, Doubront has allowed four runs over 12 innings of his past two outings, both victories. He has 37 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.

 

With Daisuke Matsuzaka soon to make his return from Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox will be faced with a decision in the rotation, and Doubront could find himself the odd-man-out. But if he continues to pitch well - and avoid batting practice pratfalls - he will make the decision very difficult for Red Sox brass.