ST. LOUIS — Back in September, Felix Doubront expressed hesitation about becoming a reliever. He was comfortable in the routine of a starter, especially with the abundance of time to get ready.
“If they said, ‘Go to the bullpen and warm up right now,’ I can’t do that,” Doubront said back then.
“He’s changed his mind, hasn’t he?” Manager John Farrell said with a smile.
Not only that, Doubront has transformed into a vital piece of the bullpen. With Clay Buchholz limited physically in Sunday’s game, it was Doubront who filled the gap with 22/3 innings of near perfect relief (retiring eight straight before allowing a hit).
And that followed Saturday’s two innings of shutout ball.
“Gosh, he’s been efficient, throwing a lot of strikes,” Farrell said. “But what stands out in this environment is just the poise and the comfort with which he’s attacked the strike zone, which is something we desperately needed.”
Farrell said Doubront embraced his bullpen role once the postseason began.
Doubront certainly seems committed to the role.
“I want to be in the game. I want to be part of the team to win the game.,” Doubront said. “When I got the opportunity, I was so focused.”
Doubront was not likely to be used Monday. His role back at Fenway is not entirely clear. It’s conceivable he could start a Game 7 if there is one. Farrell is leaning elsewhere, for now.
“We haven’t gotten to the point of saying let’s hold (Doubront) out as a potential starter,” Farrell said. “Everything points to (Jake Peavy starting) right now.”
STARTERS BECOMING relievers is the norm for Boston these days. Both Doubront and John Lackey came out of the bullpen Sunday, and Ryan Dempster had warmed up.
Peavy was expected to be ready Monday night.
Back in Boston, Clay Buchholz will join the pen.
“He’s already offered,” Farrell said, of Buchholz volunteering for relief duty. Farrell said that, likewise, Lackey approached him about relieving in Game 4.
“Not a traditional approach, but not a traditional time of year,” Farrell said.
THE TWO ROOKIES who began the season in Portland, pitcher Brandon Workman and infielder Xander Bogaerts, were in the spotlight before Monday’s game. Before each playoff game, a player or players from each team are selected for the pre-game press conference.
Brandon and Bogaerts fielded questions from the national media.
“Started from Double-A and now I’m here in the postseason,” Bogaerts said. “It’s pretty special.”
Bogaerts said he has heard from many in his home country of Aruba.
“It’s hectic down there,” he said. “People wearing my jersey. I can’t even imagine. Everybody is watching the games and expecting you to do good.
“The first two games, I got two strikeouts in each game. Everyone was like, “Bogaerts, what’s going on?’
“I was like, ‘Don’t panic. Relax.’ It’s baseball.”
Unlike Bogaerts, Workman was not invited to the major league spring training camp.
“I was on the minor league side of things,” Workman said. Reaching the majors “was definitely a goal of mine.
“To realize that dream, and be able to contribute on this level, it’s been a special year.”
KOLTEN WONG was visibly upset, on the verge of tears, after being picked off Sunday night, ending Game 4. His teammates quickly rallied to support him.
“A couple of guys, myself included, have said some things to him,” infielder Matt Carpenter said.
The pick-off was “how the game ended, but it certainly was not the reason we lost. There were a lot of factors that were in play.”
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: