PORTLAND – On a cold, raw afternoon, Marc Valdes looked around Hadlock Field and smiled, warmed by the memories.
“I loved my time here,” Valdes said.
Valdes, 39, was back in Portland last week, 15 years after he stepped on the Hadlock rubber in a Sea Dogs uniform.
Now the pitching coach for the Binghamton Mets, Valdes remains one of the most successful pitchers in Sea Dogs history. And back then there was no 37-foot-high Maine Monster in left field to keep fly balls inside the park.
“I didn’t worry about that,” Valdes said. “I came here at the right time. I was locked in pretty good.”
A first-round draft pick by the Florida Marlins in 1993, Valdes was first called up to Portland in June the next year. He had an 8-4 record and 2.55 ERA.
Valdes returned to Double-A the next year and then made his major league debut. But in 1996, he was back in Portland.
“To get my confidence back,” Valdes said. He got it, with a 6-2 record and 2.66 ERA.
His combined 2.59 ERA was not surpassed in Portland until Jon Lester brought his fastball to Hadlock in 2005 (2.57).
Valdes made it back to the majors in 1996, but the Marlins waived him after the season and Montreal picked him up. He pitched for the Expos, Astros and Braves, and in the Yankees’ and Rays’ organizations.
He appeared in 144 games with 22 starts. Near the end of his career while with the Yankees, Valdes returned to the Eastern League with Trenton in 2005. He won a June game in relief at Hadlock and later lost a game in relief to the Sea Dogs (and Lester) in New Jersey.
He retired after the 2005 season. In 2007, he joined the Mets’ organization as a pitching coach. This is his first season with Double-A Binghamton, giving him a chance to return to Hadlock.
“It’s a beautiful ballpark and the new clubhouse looks awesome,” said Valdes. “This is such a beautiful part of the country. I never would have thought about coming here (if not for baseball).
“The people here. The lobsters. This was a good time in my life.”
DICKIE SCOTT also made a Maine reunion when the Mets were in town.
Scott, 48, is a native of Ellsworth who played nine years of pro ball, including a brief appearance with Oakland in 1989. Scott is in his first year as the Mets’ minor league field director.
He held the same position for Houston last year. Previously, Scott was the Toronto Blue Jays’ director of player personnel from 2001-09.
Now he is with the Mets, whose minor league talent is ranked 20th out of 30 organizations by Baseball America.
“We’ve got some work to do,” Scott said. But “I’m happy here. It’s going to be good.”
IN THE small world department, Scott was a Double-A manager with the A’s in Huntsville, Ala., in 1995 when a high school baseball coach showed up as an intern under Scott.
That intern, Dave Joppie, is now the hitting coach for the Sea Dogs.
“I learned a lot from Dick Scott. I wouldn’t be here without him,” said Joppie, who interned two seasons before being hired full time by the A’s. The Red Sox hired him in 2006.
NOTES: Valdes’ former catcher in Portland, Mike Redmond, 40, is now managing the Lansing Lugnuts, the Class A affiliate of the Blue Jays. Redmond retired as a player last fall after 13 major league seasons.
Former Sea Dogs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was batting .420 with seven home runs and 28 RBI through 20 games for the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A team in Tucson, Ariz. The Sea Dogs will play only three home games over the next 15 days, May 6-8.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: