Years ago I met a minor league manager who ordered a bunch of T-shirts for his players. The shirts featured a five-word slogan:
"Don't like it? Play better."
The message was simple. The game of baseball isn't always fair, and players will think they deserve a better opportunity than their manager or front office is giving them. But there is only one solution to the problem: Keep playing and keep improving.
Felix Doubront was 2-4 as a starter for Boston this year, with a 5.19 ERA. His short outings (average five innings) were taxing the bullpen. So the Red Sox moved him to the bullpen.
Did Doubront embrace the role, determined to prove his worth? The answer was demonstrated Monday when he faced 10 batters in the sixth inning: two outs, six hits, two walks, six runs. He has made nine relief appearances so far, with an ERA of 11.00.
Yes, it is not always easy to transition from starer to reliever, and Doubront has said he doesn't like it. But when motivated, Doubront has come through (like his 1.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP as a reliever is last year's post-season).
It is not like Boston manager John Farrell does not think Doubront has the talent to start. Farrell constantly calls Doubront's ability the best on Boston's staff. It just has not translated into results.
Doubront, only 26, is eligible for arbitration before next season (meaning a bump from his $587,000 salary) and is not a free agent until 2018.
He can still be a great pitcher for Boston. But is there any way to make Doubront improve?
Maybe one of those T-shirts.
Interesting that we're talking about motivation and effort, as we transition to the performance of Sea Dogs' starter Mike Augliera Monday night. Portland played a 12-inning game Sunday and faced a doubleheader Tuesday and a noon game Wednesday. The pitching staff would be in trouble is Augliera did not go deep into Monday's game.
But the rains came down in the fourth inning and forced an 80-minute delay. Augliera knew he needed to keep pitching and stayed warm by throwing in the indoor batting cage. He came out lasted eight inning in the Sea Dogs 2-0 win.
Before today's doubleheader, the Sea Dogs will hold a press conference to announce that the 2015 Eastern League All-Star Game is coming to Portland. See today's story.
Pawtucket starter Steven Wright (5-2, 2.80) had a rare off night: 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 5 K ... Both Travis Shaw (.290) and Garin Cecchini (.243) homered, Shaw's ninth, Cecchini's fourth.