DURHAM, N.C. – Portland native Ryan Reid walked toward the entrance of the home clubhouse at Durham Bulls Athletic Park about four hours before a recent game.

Going in the opposite direction, toward the visitor’s clubhouse, was Kevin Youkilis, who was on a rehab assignment with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

“Hey, Youk,” said Reid, 27, the former Deering High star who is now in Triple-A in the Tampa Bay farm system.

The brief exchange showed how close — and perhaps how far — Reid is from making it to the major leagues.

While Reid, a 5-foot-11 right-handed reliever, has posted good numbers this season, he wasn’t rated among the top 30 prospects in the Tampa Bay farm system prior to this year, and he wasn’t listed on the depth chart for right-handed relievers by Baseball America.

“We have a lot of young talent,” said Reid outside the Durham clubhouse during a recent homestand. “You can control what you can control. I am at Triple-A but how close am I really (to the majors)? Who knows.”

Reid, drafted by the Rays out of James Madison in the seventh round in 2006, is certainly closer than he was last year when he posted an ERA of 6.75 in 16 innings at Double-A Montgomery of the Southern League and an ERA of 4.55 in 551/3 innings at Durham.

In 14 outings this year through Friday night, he had an ERA of 3.08 with a record of 2-0. In 261/3 innings, he allowed 23 hits and had an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 27-8.

So what happened since the end of last season? Reid said his first experience playing in another country, in the winter league in baseball-crazy Venezuela, was a huge step in his career.

He got the chance to close for a team where his pitching coach was Wilson Alvarez, a former big league pitcher. And Reid played in front of rabid fans who were not shy about shouting at players or throwing things on the field.

“Last year the experience I got here was great,” he said. “I was on the DL for all of August but I was 100 percent when I was at Venezuela. You learn a lot about yourself in a crowd. It forces you to focus more. It’s not about anything but getting the out. That’s carried over a lot and has helped me a lot. They love their baseball. It’s their pastime just like ours, but they may be more passionate than we are. I closed for them for a month and a half.”

After a strong spring training, which included several outings for the big league club, Reid began this year in Durham, made famous by the movie “Bull Durham” that was filmed at a park no longer used for minor-league ball.

The new home of the Bulls seats 10,000 and has a 32-foot high fence in left field called the Blue Monster. “It’s awesome. We have great crowds,” Reid said of the atmosphere in Durham.

Reid, who grew up as a Red Sox fan, bumped into a few major league veterans this week when Boston’s top farm team visited Durham.

Reid pitched 21/3 innings Wednesday, and gave up no runs and one hit as Youkilis made his first rehab appearance for Pawtucket, which won 5-4. Youkilis went 1 for 2 but was out of the game by the time Reid came in to pitch.

Making a rehab appearance for Durham was Hideki Matsui, who had two hits in four at-bats.

Matsui was in the lineup again Thursday and was hitless in three at-bats as Daisuke Matsuzaka made a rehab start for Pawtucket.

Matsuzaka went 62/3 innings, and allowed seven hits and four earned runs in Durham’s 5-0 victory.

While Youkilis and Matsuzaka will soon be back in the majors, Reid doesn’t know what the future holds.

For now he’s excited about his fast start this season.

“I came in ready to compete. I think that was the difference,” he said.