The Boston Red Sox won a baseball championship in 2013, claiming that a combination of camaraderie and talent pushed the team to the top.
They were not the only ones.
Down a few rungs on the baseball ladder, the Salem Red Sox overcame some of their top players being promoted to Portland and still came through to win the Carolina League championship.
Several of those Salem players are now in Double-A, playing for the Portland Sea Dogs.
Portland is scheduled to begin its season at 7 p.m. Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin Phils, unless a predicted rain storm forces a postponement.
It has been eight years since the Sea Dogs won the Eastern League title and six years since they reached the playoffs. This could be the season Portland returns to contention.
This team has good players and maybe a little something extra.
“Beyond the talent, the personality of this team will be the driving force,” said infielder Sean Coyle, who finished last season with Salem. “We enjoy playing with each other and we feed off each other’s energy.”
Coyle, 22, is one of those with energy. He hit 16 home runs in Class A last year, third-highest in the Red Sox farm system, and batted .417 in the postseason.
Coyle replaces prized third-base prospect Garin Cecchini, now in Triple-A Pawtucket, and helps maintain a promising infield.
Mookie Betts, who hit .341 in a half-season at Salem, is at second base. Deven Marrero and Travis Shaw, two players invited to major league spring training, man short and first base.
The outfield is thin, with Peter Hissey filling in at Pawtucket and Keury De La Cruz on the disabled list. The three remaining are out to prove themselves.
Center fielder Shannon Wilkerson hit .237 for Portland last year. Henry Ramos is 21 but shows power potential with 12 home runs in Salem last year. Bo Greenwell is in his first full season in Double-A.
Catching features a prime prospect, Blake Swihart, backed up by two veterans, Matt Spring and Michael Brenly.
Henry Owens, the opening-night starter, heads the pitching staff. He’s one of the four starters with Double-A experience, with Keith Couch, Mickey Pena and Michael McCarthy. Mike Augliera was 9-6 in Salem last year.
The bullpen includes 31-year-old Jose Valdez, the oldest player on the roster. A minor league free agent, Valdez has big league experience with Houston.
Also in the group are Noe Ramirez and Miguel Celestino, both in Boston’s spring training camp, and Michael Olmsted, who was on the Brewers’ 40-man roster last year.
NOTES: The Sea Dogs will face right-hander Jesse Biddle, the No. 2 prospect in the Phillies’ organization, according to the Baseball America publication. … Most Eastern League games can be viewed online for a fee. See www.milb.com for details. … After the four games with Reading, the Sea Dogs will be at Trenton for three games before arriving at Hadlock Field for the home opener next Thursday.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: