FORT MYERS, Fla. – In terms of traveling to Fenway Park, McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I., is about 60 miles closer than Hadlock Field in Portland.

But for Felix Doubront, the distance is no big deal. He figures he can get to Boston from Hadlock just as quickly.

Doubront, 22, the Portland Sea Dogs’ pitcher of the year in 2009, will be back with the Sea Dogs to begin this season.

“I found out (Tuesday),” Doubront said with a shrug, sitting on a bench outside the Red Sox’s player development complex. “I’m happy no matter where I’m going.”

Doubront was sent to the Double-A Sea Dogs with two other players – outfielder Ryan Kalish and infielder Ray Chang.

Kalish, 22, is coming off a solid partial season in Portland (.271, 13 home runs in 103 games). Chang, 26, is a minor-league free agent, playing Class A and Double-A for the Pirates last year.

The placements of Kalish and Chang weren’t a surprise. But Doubront has pitched a full season in Double-A, posting an 8-6 record and a 3.67 ERA.

Doubront doesn’t interpret a return to Portland as a slight

“The point is to do my job,” Doubront said. “I’m still working hard. And they can still call me up (to Boston) from Portland.”

He has his facts straight there. Pitchers like Justin Masterson, David Pauley and Abe Alvarez made their major-league debut directly from Portland. And others, including Jonathan Papelbon, Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa, began a season in Portland only to hop to Triple-A Pawtucket on their way to Boston in the same year.

“We have demonstrated that we will promote a pitcher from Portland (to the majors),” said Mike Hazen, Boston’s director of player development.

Hazen said a couple of factors were considered when deciding to return Doubront to Portland.

One is that Pawtucket has a full slate of starters. The other has to do with Doubront’s 2009 season.

“He had a good year but not a great year,” Hazen said. “We feel he was better served in Portland.”

While Doubront had 101 strikeouts in 121 innings, he also issued 55 walks. Often, Doubront nibbled too much and his pitch count elevated too quickly.

In 26 starts, Doubront averaged fewer than five innings.

Doubront didn’t need to be told twice what to improve on. He thinks he already has improved.

“I’m locating my fastball, getting ahead in the count and being aggressive,” Doubront said. “My change-up is a lot better. My curveball is good.”

The improvement showed in three spring-training appearances (two starts) in major-league games. In seven innings, he allowed no runs, three hits and two walks, striking out two.

Doubront always has shown potential, which is why the Red Sox put him on the 40-man roster before last season. A left-hander with a fastball in the low 90s and decent off-speed stuff is valuable.

Doubront might be needed in Boston this year, depending on the health of the rotation. The Red Sox can call on Bowden in Pawtucket, but Tazawa is likely out for the year with elbow problems.

Doubront would figure to be the next option.

And the Red Sox know where to find him.

History has shown that Portland is not that far from Fenway Park.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]