- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- He's already pitched at Fenway Park, but when Felix Doubront toes the rubber in a spot start for the Red Sox on Friday, he'll be making his major-league debut.
The 22-year-old left-hander will be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to start in place of the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While Doubront will be facing big-league hitters for the first time in a regular-season game (he pitched for the Red Sox in spring training) it won't be his first time at the Fens. He pitched for Double-A Portland as part of the Futures at Fenway minor-league doubleheader last summer before a sellout crowd.
His next start here will be a little bit different since he'll be facing the likes of Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers, but the Red Sox organization is thrilled to see Doubront continue his development and make that next step.
He's 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA in four starts for the PawSox after he began the season with Double-A Portland and posted a 4-0 record with a 2.51 ERA in eight starts for the Sea Dogs.
"He's doing pretty good and he was a fun kid to watch this spring," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He had poise and everybody liked his fastball. He's not the finished product and he's still developing secondary pitches, but he's got some finish on his fastball and he's not afraid to throw it."
This is Doubront's sixth season in the Red Sox organization after he was signed as an international free agent on July 12, 2004. The reports Francona has received from the player development staff have been solid.
"He's quick to the plate and he holds runners. This is another one of those where we're excited," Francona said. "We've got a young kid coming who has a chance to impact our future, but in the meantime help us win now, and that makes us excited.
"[Pitching coach] John Farrell loves him. Absolutely loves him. When he says that, that gets my attention. He's been on this kid since the first side day he saw him throw."
Doubront has impressed Farrell the last two spring trainings with his ability to get strikeouts with his fastball and the fact that he didn't back away from the challenge of facing big-league hitters during Grapefruit League games. His pitching repertoire consists of a fastball, curveball and changeup.
"The thing that stood out to us was the fact that in those settings, it's almost like he relished that challenge and didn't back away from it," Farrell said.
There's a lot to like about Doubront.
"When you see a left-hander who is 6-foot-3 and can throw the ball in the low 90s, that's a lot of good things to start with," Farrell said. "Combine that with how he fared and how he showed in the starts, particularly this spring training was encouraging for all of us. For our entire organization to see that kind of a young left-handed pitcher on the rise is very encouraging."
The Red Sox don't do this often, but when they do call up a prospect to make a spot start that means the club has complete faith in the pitcher and believes it's the right time in his development to give him an opportunity.
In the past the Red Sox have promoted the likes of former prospects Abe Alvarez and David Pauley from Double-A. Michael Bowden made the jump from Triple-A to Boston for his major-league debut in 2008.
Alvarez is playing in Italy, Pauley is pitching in the Mariners organization and Bowden continues his development with the PawSox.
No matter the end result of Doubront's outing on Friday, it will be a learning experience.
"Only positives come out of this, particularly for their first-hand experience," said Farrell. "However long this stint lasts, if he does happen to go back, he'll have an opportunity to clearly know what it feels like and clarify what the ultimate goal is and what he's got to do to continue to achieve that."
When healthy, the Red Sox's starting rotation is set for the foreseeable future, which makes Doubront's performance on Friday an important one.
"Certainly there's going to be some added adrenaline and emotion," said Farrell. "How he is able to harness that is the key for him, or anybody making their major-league debut. He's got a very bright future and we're all looking forward to seeing it Friday."
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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