BOSTON – Among the moves meant to give the Boston Red Sox a little spark was the activation of former Sea Dogs left-hander Felix Doubront.

To make room for Doubront, the Red Sox designated Dennys Reyes for assignment, the first step in trading or releasing him.

Reyes had been one of a mob of left-handers invited to spring training to compete for a bullpen job, with Hideki Okajima, Andrew Miller, Rich Hill and others.

Apparently Red Sox Manager Terry Francona knew all along who he wanted.

“We love Doubront,” Francona said. “He wasn’t ready to pitch when we left (Florida). Getting Felix here, we’re very excited.”

Doubront experienced soreness in his elbow early in spring training and was immediately shut down. He’s slowly come back, throwing side sessions and simulated games.

Still, he was preparing to head to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“They called me,” Doubront said. “I was going to be moving Friday (to Pawtucket). I didn’t expect this. I’m very happy.”

Doubront, 23, was the Sea Dogs’ pitcher of the year in 2009 and began last season in Portland. He worked his way to Fenway, recording a 4.32 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 25 innings for Boston last year.

“He doesn’t back off,” Francona said. “The one thing we’ve always loved is that the first hitter he faces, he’s always ready to compete and throw strikes.”

 

REYES DIDN’T make a good impression in his short stay — two hits, two runs, two walks and two hit batters in 12/3 innings.

“I know it was a short leash with Dennys but we need to try and win some games,” Francona said.

 

THE OTHER bullpen move made Friday was promoting Alfredo Alceves to replace Matt Albers, who went on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle.

 

THE RED SOX also tinkered with the lineup.

Francona moved Carl Crawford to the leadoff spot and dropped Jacoby Ellsbury to eighth.

“We’re trying to find something, trying to get in a groove,” Crawford said. “Whatever he wants to try, we’re all for it.”

Francona had two reasons for the move, involving Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, Boston’s best hitter so far.

“I said all along that when (Ellsbury) is swinging good, I really want him hitting leadoff,” Francona said. “He’s not been swinging terribly good but a lot of guys haven’t.

“It’s not so much a demotion, but I wanted to get (Gonzalez) up into the three hole so he hits in the first inning. And that was the best way to do it.”

Crawford went 0 for 5, Crawford was 2 for 5 and Ellsbury 1 for 4.

 

GONZALEZ’S HIT total included a rare bunt single in the seventh inning. The Yankees used an infield shift on Gonzalez toward the right side, leaving a hole at third base. Gonzalez took advantage of it.

“He said he was going to do it,” Francona said. “Run fast, big boy.”

 

AMONG THE opening ceremonies were two moments of silence, for the victims of the recent tragedies in Japan, and for Lou Gorman, the former Red Sox general manager who recently died at the age of 82.

Taps were performed by a U.S. Navy trumpeter for Gorman, a Navy veteran. Then the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Band performed the national anthem.

Carl Yastrzemski, a Red Sox Hall of Famer, threw out the first pitch. Yastrzemski was celebrating his 50th anniversary of first appearing in a Boston uniform.

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

kthomas@pressherald.com