PORTLAND – They say they are much more comfortable this season.

And that’s the plan for Stolmy Pimentel and Oscar Tejeda.

Settle down at Hadlock Field, feel good about themselves, put up some good numbers.

And then get the heck out of here.

Pimentel and Tejeda, both only 22, are two prospects who do not have much time.

To prevent other teams from taking them in the Rule V draft, the Red Sox placed both Pimentel and Tejeda on the team’s 40-man roster last year.

Because major league rules say you cannot stockpile minor league players on the 40-man roster forever, 40-man roster players can only go to the minors for three years. Then they are out of options.

(This is why Michael Bowden was traded to the Cubs. Boston wanted to replace him on its roster, but he no longer could be sent to the minors).

In the case of Pimentel and Tejeda, they will be out of options after the 2013 season. Ideally, the Red Sox would like to see them in Triple-A. But after both struggled last season, the Red Sox are being patient for now.

“I don’t think we’re in a huge rush with either one of those guys,” said Boston Director of Player Development Ben Crockett. “Both are still really young. I know both are (40-man) roster players, but both guys have shown a nice adjustment to the (Double-A) level in their second year here.

“At this point, we want to see them continue to progress here and we’ll make that decision (on a promotion) when it comes.”

Pimentel was 0-9 in Portland last year before being demoted back to Class A. This season, after missing the first three weeks with a strained lat muscle, he has looked solid in his first four starts. His fifth start was a little rough, giving up five runs in three innings.

Overall, Pimentel looks much more in command, firing his lively fastball, along with a good change-up and slider.

“I feel a lot more comfortable with all my pitches,” he said. “Last year was hard for me. I just think about getting better and keep working hard.”

Tejeda batted .249 last season with five home runs in Portland while making 24 errors at second base. During this past spring training, he was moved to the outfield.

“I just want to play, whatever position,” Tejeda said.

Tejeda has fielded the ball well in left field while batting .279 with five home runs. He went on the disabled list last week with a strained hamstring muscle but could return later this week.

Both are showing improvement but, because of their roster status, the bar is set high. And the clock is ticking.

THE 2006 SOX CLASS of Dominican Republic free agents was highlighted by Tejeda, Pimentel and outfielder Engel Beltre, who was traded to Texas in the 2007 deal for reliever Eric Gagne. Beltre, 22, is on the Rangers’ 40-man roster and in his third season in Double-A, batting .265 with five home runs.

TALK OF OTTAWA joining the Eastern League next year has cooled, especially with the announcement this past week that the Toronto Blue Jays have extended their affiliation agreement with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats through the 2014 season.

A group in Ottawa was seeking an Eastern League team (believed to be the Binghamton Mets), with the idea of attracting the Blue Jays affiliation.

MONDAY FEATURES one of the best promotions at Hadlock Field. Those with tickets to the 1 p.m. game against New Britain can play catch in the Hadlock outfield from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases