BOSTON — Red Sox reliever Felix Doubront can hardly wait for Tuesday.
That's when his mother, Nancy Caraballo, will be moving here to the United States from Venezuela.
"Oh, my God," Doubront said excitedly. "It's pretty tough to get a visa in Venezuela right now. So she got the visa and I'm excited."
Doubront, a 22-year-old rookie left-hander who was born in Carabobo, Venezuela, has experienced a busy past few weeks. First, he was converted from a starter to a reliever in Pawtucket. Then, he was called up to pitch as a reliever for the Red Sox after making just one appearance out of the bullpen in Pawtucket. Now he is ready to reunite with his mother who he last saw in January when he visited Venezuela.
All in all, it has been an exciting August for Doubront, who shows a great deal of promise despite giving up three runs combined in his first five relief appearances for Boston.
Doubront also made three spot starts earlier this year for the Red Sox because of injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz.
Overall this year, he 2-2 with one save and a 4.50 ERA.
"He's 22 years old and he shows he can get big leaguers out," reliever Manny Delcarmen said about Doubront. "He's definitely a power lefty. ... He throws a cutter and throws the ball 93, 94 mph so he's pretty good."
Welcoming his mother
Doubront's mother has never been to the United States and, therefore, has never seen him pitch live in professional baseball here.
"You've got cable in Venezuela so she can see Red Sox games," Doubront said. "But she's excited to see me pitch every day.
"She's never seen me pitch in the United States. In Venezuela, yeah, when I play winter ball there she comes to the games."
Doubront said he wants to pay back his mother for all she has done for him, whether it was taking him to games or giving him money for 10-hour bus rides to play baseball.
"She paid when I was younger," he said. "Now I have to give all I've got to her now and make (sure she) enjoys the United States. ... She's the one who would be there for me all of my career just taking me to the games and on long trips."
Doubront said that his mother would live with him, his wife, and their two sons.
"I'm going to take her to see the mountains," he said. "I'm going to take her everywhere."
Doubront said his dad and mother are no longer together but he hopes that his dad will move to the United States possibly next year.
Welcoming his new role
Doubront wasn't always so receptive to the idea of becoming a reliever.
After a spot start earlier this year, he said he wanted to remain a starter.
Still, the Red Sox opted to convert him to a middle reliever instead of making any trades at the July 31 trade deadline.
"It's pretty cool," he said about his new role. "It's pretty exciting being here. It's a challenge. I like it that way."
Doubront showed promise in his second relief appearance, which came against Toronto on Aug. 10 when he struck out a batter after inheriting two runners with two outs in the sixth inning. He allowed a solo home run to start the seventh but retired the next three hitters.
He then earned a save in Texas on Aug. 14 when he closed out a 3-1 victory.
"I like the pressure," he said. "It makes me feel good. You're kind of a little bit nervous, but I don't show that nervousness on the mound. I'm just focusing on the hitters and throwing strikes. When I throw the first ball, all I've got, all the nervousness or whatever I've got, it's gone."
Tuesday he came in with a 6-0 lead in the eighth vs. the Angels. He loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk but then struck out Erick Aybar to end the threat.
Boston manager Terry Francona was asked before yesterday's game how leaving Doubront in Tuesday might help the lefty's development.
"I don't think it hurts," Francona said. "I also don't think we would have let him pitch in that situation if we didn't think he could handle it. ... He's a young kid and we're asking him to handle some things but only because we feel like he can."
Doubront still sees himself as a starting pitcher.
"I like starting games," he said. "But this team needs bullpen guys. And I'm happy they came to me."
DID YOU KNOW?
1. Doubront met his wife when he was pitching in Single-A Greenville.
2. Before signing a professional contract, he considered being an outfielder.
3. Doubront has his name tattooed onto one of his arms. It's his only tattoo.
4. Doubront signed with the Red Sox on May 13, 2005 as an amateur free agent.
5. Dogged by multiple injuries in 2007, he was just 4-10 with a 7.45 ERA in Greenville and Lowell.