Ouch! Once again the start to the 2007 Portland Sea Dogs season has been postponed. No baseball, no Championship Ring Ceremony at Hadlock Field tonight. Field conditions, as you would imagine less than two days after a foot of snow began falling, will keep us in limbo until at least Saturday. That’s a day game (1 p.m.). Some one should call the DoubleTree where our opponents, the Connecticut Defenders (Giants) have been holed-up and see if they need more DVDs, magazines… room service.
Well, we’ve still got our Saux to watch! Hey, how about Dice-K’s debut!?
A foot of snow covers Hadlock Field in Portland at the moment, thus making a white-out of the big Opening Night plans to raise our Eastern League Championship banner. If you think you’re disappointed, how about the players? Many of our Sea Dogs have been patiently waiting all winter to receive those gawdy (spectacular is a better word!) rings! Team President and General Manager, Charlie Eshbach made the announcement this morning. This marks the third time in team history. I still remember on Opening Day 2001, the front office staff and some of the players out there building a team of snowmen at each position. Oh, and don’t forget 2003 when Portland’s first seven games were snowed-out.
Funny, I was thinking the same thing you are — and last night had a chance to ask someone in a position to know — WHY do you guys insist every year on playing baseball in northern New England the first week of April? That was at the annual Welcome Back Dinner where I also talked to many, many of you young fans. YES, I promised you’d be on the next podcast and you ARE. Check back here a bit later today and hear yourself!! 😉
Okay, about the game. Plans are now to hold the ring ceremony and banner hoisting on Friday night. Same opponent, the Connecticut Defenders (Giants). They’re camped out at the local Double Tree hotel right now. Probably playing checkers, ya think? Enjoy Portland, guys. You may be staying awhile longer.
Portland’s roster is set for Opening Day and is this club ever loaded! The Sea Dogs today announced the names of 27 players (including three starting the year on the DL) who will defend the Eastern League crown.
How stacked are these Sea Dogs? Three of the top ten prospects we have will play here, and 19 players boast Double-A experience; 16 spent time in Portland last season. Right hander Clay Buchholz, [left] the number three prospect in ‘Sox Nation, gets the Opening night start. He was 11-4 with a 2.42 ERA between Low-A Greenville (SALLY) and High-A Wilmington, and his 140 strikeouts was the class of our farm system.
And yes, the organizational cornerstone for the next decade, Jacoby Ellsbury, will be patrolling center here at Hadlock Field when the ‘Dogs kick off the 2007 season next Thursday night, same as he did for 50 games down the stretch in ’06. Named the second-best prospect in the entire Red Sox farm system (behind Dice-K) by Baseball America, Ellsbury has all the tools. Last year he hit a combined .303 with Single-A Wilmington (Carolina League) and Double-A Portland. And his 41 steals were tops in the Red Sox organization! Flanking Ellsbury will be a couple of studs in Jeff Corsaletti, who worked a Carolina League best 97 walks; his .400 OBP led the Blue Rocks last season), and newly acquired Cory Keylor, the Orioles’ Minor League Player-of-the-Year with Bowie in 2006 where he batted .294 with ten homers and 68 ribbies.
The Sea Dogs opening day roster is beginning to crystalize. And it promises to be a strong one- maybe even stronger than the club that captured Portland’s first-ever Eastern League crown last season. A trade the Red Sox pulled off yesterday with the Orioles could reap instant dividends here at Hadlock Field. In dire need of a seasoned backup catcher, Baltimore acquired Alberto Castillo, a non-roster player from Boston. In exchange, the Birds parted with their 2006 Minor League Player-of-the-Year, outfielder Cory Keylor, who hit .294 with ten homers and 68 RBI with the Double-A Bowie Baysox. ‘Dogs broadcaster, Mike Antonellis says Keylor just might open the season here in Portland!
In other moves Tuesday, Boston optioned relievers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen to Triple-A Pawtucket. Hansen, who shined in brief stints as a Sea Dog, has been inconsistent in two, partial seasons with the big club. This spring he’s been downright dreadful. Hansen said yesterday he “is letting the team down” and welcomes the chance to work his way back to the majors with the Paw Sox.
In other news, Jon Lester will start the season in Greenville, South Carolina. Terry Francona says the plan is for Lester to make four starts for the Class-A Drive and build up his pitch count, before the club evaluates the young lefthander’s next step on the road back from chemotherapy treatments.
On the Sea Dogs calendar, with Opening Night and the gala championship ring ceremony just eight days away, a couple of items of note. On Monday, April 2nd the team is due to arrive in Portland. We’ll post the complete roster here in the next couple of days. Wednesday night, April 4th is the annual ‘Welcome Back Dinner‘ to benefit Youth Alternatives. Tickets are still available.
A trimmer ‘Big Papi’, a bigger Hanley Ramirez, and a sleeper pick for this year’s Cy Young hardware in the Junior Circuit. Just some of what Mike Antonellis is serving up, direct from Fort Myers, in this episode of Dog Cast. Enjoy Show #5 Red Sox Nation!
The radio voice of the Sea Dogs joins us from balmy Fort Myers (sure, rub it in, Mike!). Mike Antonellis plays pepper with us about Hanley Ramirez, the log jam in the ‘Sox outfield, and the sudden retirement of Chris Durbin. Here’s show #4.
And you can stay up-to-the-minute on all the Red Sox news from Spring Training with Mike’s daily blog, “Turning Two.”
Exactly two weeks to go until Opening Night at Hadlock Field. It’s the second (official) day of Spring here in still snowy Portland, Maine. Warm up with this feature on how the ‘Dogs have been striking out cancer in kids – to the tune of $3 million dollars! Show #3 comin’ at ya…