SARASOTA, Fla. — Felix Doubront completed his simulated game Wednesday successfully in Fort Myers and has passed the final hurdle for starting a spring game, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. That start will come Monday afternoon at JetBlue Park against Tampa Bay.
The lefty was slowed at the start of camp due to fatigue in his left [throwing] shoulder and was held back. He began throwing a week later than the other four projected starters in the rotation. He threw live batting practice earlier this week before throwing his simulated game on Wednesday.
“He was very good. Two sim innings and he’s on tap for Monday,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game against the Orioles.
After some confusion, another pitcher, Alfredo Aceves, will indeed pitch for Mexico for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Farrell had initially informed his right-hander, who was initially on the provisional roster, that he was not selected for the regular roster and would not be playing. That apparently was not the case.
Farrell said it’s likely that Aceves will start for Mexico, which is part of the reason the Red Sox wanted to stretch him out to start camp.
David Ortiz left the team Wednesday for the Dominican Republic to take care of a personal matter.
“He’s taking a couple of personal days,” Farrell said. “He’s got a personal issue he’s taking care of right now.”
Other pregame notes included Farrell’s reaction to St. Louis manager and former catcher Mike Matheny instructing his catchers to avoid all contact at the plate when possible: “You want the aggressiveness to always remain in the game,” Farrell said. “But at the same time, when a catcher can be opened up, in some cases, for a very severe injury, you almost have to listen to the comments of Mike and Bruce Bochy, former catchers who have sustained a serious injury from it. Their comments probably resonate more than those of who have not been back there. I guess I take the view of the game from the traditional standpoint that you want good, hard play as long as it’s not a cheap shot. Where do you draw the line on a play at the plate? If it’s a hard slide that makes contact. Maybe just a mandatory slide rather than just a head-up, full-on collision, I can see the merit in preserving guys’ health. They can be scary, no doubt about. [Jorge] Posada took one from Hinske that I still don’t know how it got up from it but he did. I think the last thing anyone want is to hurt anyone in the game. “The way they’re schooled, the way they’re taught, there’s a way to receive that blow and still protect the plate and themselves.”
Farrell confirmed the report earlier in the day  that Mike Napoli has been cleared following base-running drills on Wednesday in Fort Myers. He will start at first base Friday night against Pittsburgh and get at least two at-bats: “Yeah, he’s on tap to start and get a couple of at-bats on Friday. He’ll play first base and look forward to getting him on the field. Play under control, particularly if he gets on base. The one thing we’re still be a little cautious with is just the sliding. We’re not in a position to say, ‘Don’t slide’ but if he does, just give himself ample time to stop before jarring himself on the bag.”
Farrell on Napoli playing first: “I think instinctually, that will take over. But the most important thing is that he initiates that well before the bag and not get into a really jamming situation with the hip.
“Just in talking with him, I know that is still an ongoing process with him and he’s gaining a little bit more comfort with it, probably as much the cuts and relays as it is fielding a ground ball. By his own admission, he’s talked about when he was with Texas and or sparingly with the Angels, when he was put out there knowing that he was a catcher first, and he would play first on occasion. But, in this case, where he’s been able to go through the drill work and talk at length with Butter, that’s put a lot of those unknowns at ease with him.
Already, you can see his hands work very cleanly with balls in the dirt. He plays low to the ground, I think by virtue of having spent so many years behind the plate. So you see his footwork. For a guy his size, he’s still got quick feet; he’s agile. In time, I think he’ll become a very good first baseman.
On Franklin Morales starting against the Orioles: “It’s going to be one inning of work. Again, just to get out in competition for the first time in spring training, going to see how the ball comes out of his hand, knowing that he finished last year with some shoulder discomfort but there hasn’t been any effect or evidence of that throughout spring training. First chance to get back on the mound in live competition.
On Red Sox minor league pitching in “B” game against Twins Thursday at JetBlue Park: “The Twins had asked to see if we could put together a “B” game. they’re in need of the innings from a pitching standpoint. Get some time on the field for Marrero and Henry on the infield. This is a chance to help out the Twins a little bit and get our pitchers who we continually bring over from the minor league complex in games, keep them in the mix.”
On Buck Showalter: “Very consistent. Obviously, he did a great job with their bullpen last year, when you consider the number of one-run games they won. There were clearly roles established in that bullpen and they performed very well, probably much in part to knowing what their role was and when they’re going to be called on late in the game. It was clear that they gained a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence despite what everybody saw in the run differential. They defied that. When you look at the last two years, the culture has certainly changed with the Orioles.”