SOUTH PORTLAND – If it were up to Portland Sea Dogs President Charlie Eshbach, his team’s connection to the Boston Red Sox would have an eternal ring to it.

“Our intent is to be with them forever,” Eshbach said Friday after announcing an extension of the teams’ player development agreement (PDA) for two more years, through the 2014 season.

Player development agreements can run no longer than four years, so 2014 is as far away as the Red Sox and Sea Dogs officially can stay committed to each other, although current sentiment favors a long union.

“They take care of our kids and they take care of our staff,” said Mike Hazen, the Red Sox director of player development, who arrived in Portland Friday for the Sea Dogs’ annual hot stove dinner at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks.

“The (agreement) benefits the Red Sox and it benefits the Sea Dogs. It’s why this partnership has worked so well for so long already, and will probably continue to do so in the future.”

Although the Sea Dogs’ previous contract with Boston would have run until 2012, the Portland franchise requested two more years.

“We asked them about extending it,” Eshbach said. “It just kind of sends the message that we’re here forever. And apparently the Red Sox are in favor of that message.”

Friday’s announcement was the equivalent of a coach getting an extension to a contract already in place. It was not necessary, but it does add to the coach’s security.

“It’s something the Sea Dogs really wanted,” Hazen said. “As strong as our relationship is, it’s something we wanted to do as well. We’ve made no issue about the fact that we’re not planning on going anywhere.

“If it’s important to them from a business and operational standpoint, then it’s important to us.”

Needless to say, the Sea Dogs are pleased.

“It’s a good thing for all of us to have that long-term certainty,” said Bill Burke, Sea Dogs chairman and son of owner Dan Burke. “With the Red Sox, it’s usually just a question of when, not if.”

The Sea Dogs came into existence in 1994 as a Florida Marlins affiliate. In 2003, the Red Sox replaced the Marlins, moving their Double-A team from Trenton, N.J., to Portland.

Boston’s new owner, John Henry, used to own the Florida Marlins.

But the Sea Dogs do have a rival franchise that covets the Red Sox. When Arthur Solomon bought the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2005, he spoke publicly about obtaining the Red Sox affiliation.

Before Portland’s PDA with Boston expired in 2008, the Sea Dogs and Red Sox renewed for four more years.

And now you can add two years to that.

It may only be a coincidence, but when New Hampshire’s current PDA with the Toronto Blue Jays expires in 2012, the Red Sox will be committed to Portland for two more years.

Since Portland affiliated with the Red Sox, Hadlock Field has undergone a series or renovations, including a Green Monster-like wall in left field, a right-field pavilion and a new clubhouse to replace the outdated one at the nearby Portland Exposition Building.

New Sea Dogs manager Kevin Boles, who was also introduced at the dinner on Friday, noticed the clubhouse right away.

“You see the clubhouse and then you have the Monster there. You can just imagine (the stadium) filled with fans,” said Boles, who spent time at Hadlock Field in 1997 as a bullpen catcher.

Back then his father, John Boles, serves as the farm director for the Marlins.

Kevin Boles has been in Portland this past week, meeting with the Sea Dogs’ front-office personnel.

“Getting to know them, this place is great,” Boles said. ” I just can’t wait to get started with these guys. It’s a great relationship. It just feels right, being in Portland.”

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

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