PORTLAND – The expected Double-A debut of pitcher Alex Wilson and a couple of the Portland Sea Dogs’ most popular promotions highlight a six-game homestand that begins tonight.

The Sea Dogs (32-29) play the Erie SeaWolves (26-36) at 7 p.m. in the opener of a three-game series.

Portland has yet to announce a starting pitcher for tonight’s game. The Sea Dogs could go with recently promoted Jeremy Kehrt or one of two pitchers on the disabled list, Kyle Weiland or Wilson. Neither pitcher was injured seriously and likely went on the DL for rest as much as anything.

Wilson, 23, joined the team while the Sea Dogs were in Erie last week. He started 11 games for advanced Class A Salem, going 2-1 with a 3.40 ERA.

Wilson was a second-round draft pick last year out of Texas A&M. The scouting report on Wilson is that he has a solid fastball and slider, with the command the Red Sox love. In 552/3 innings for Salem, he struck out 50 and walked 15.

Wilson would take the roster spot vacated by Robert Coello, who was promoted to Pawtucket and threw three hitless innings for the PawSox on Sunday.

But the Sea Dogs have six starters, if you include Kehrt, who has unexpectedly kept his spot with the Sea Dogs.

Kehrt, 24, was a 47th-round draft pick in 2008 out of the University of Southern Indiana. He was summoned from Salem for a spot start on May 22. He returned to Salem but came back June 1 and has stayed.

In his three June starts, Kehrt has allowed one earned run in 16 innings.

The other starters are Casey Kelly (1-3), who has allowed one run in his last two starts, Stephen Fife (3-1), Ryne Miller 2-4) and Weiland (2-4).

Portland’s bullpen has had its ups and downs. Santo Luis currently has the hot hand, allowing just three earned runs in his last nine appearances spanning 211/3 innings.

The Sea Dogs have only two active players batting over .264 — Ray Chang (.325) and Ryan Khoury (.318). Nate Spears is batting .259, but he has drawn 45 walks and leads the team with a .405 on-base percentage.

Shortstop Jose Iglesias is batting .306 but has not played since getting hit by a pitch on May 29. He has a deep bone bruise on his right hand and may undergo further tests to rule out any other problems.

“We just don’t know,” Sea Dogs Manager Arnie Beyeler said of Iglesias. He said Iglesias has not taken live batting practice and still has trouble throwing.

Two players who got off to slow starts are coming around. Infielder Yamaico Navarro is 12 for 35 (.343) in his last 10 games, raising his average to .263. Outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang is hitting just .215 for the season, but he’s 14 for 40 (.350) in his last 10 games.

Portland is in third place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division, 5½ games behind Trenton (28-23) and five games behind New Hampshire (39-25).

The Sea Dogs are coming off a six-game trip in which they swept three games at Erie but lost two of three at Akron.

“We did alright,” Beyeler said. “We struggled a couple of days. But to go 4-2 on the road, we’ll take that.”

 

NOTES: The Zooperstars are appearing tonight. They are a popular comedy group featuring large, inflatable animal characters (think Cow Ripken Jr.). …

Thursday night’s promotion is fireworks after the game. …

Following the Erie series, the Sea Dogs will host Akron for three games.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]