March 11, 2010

Familiar names as Dogs' roster finalized

KEVIN THOMAS

— By

Staff Writer

The 2009 edition of the Portland Sea Dogs was assembled Thursday, following meetings involving the Boston Red Sox player development staff in Fort Myers, Fla.

Players will begin arriving in Portland early next week, with the opener at 6 p.m. Thursday at Hadlock Field.

Portland, the Double-A affiliate of the Red Sox, again features a roster of new, old and surprising additions.

Among the unexpected:

n Left-hander Felix Doubront, who had pitched only three games in advanced Class A.

n Aaron Bates, no longer listed as a first baseman but the starting left fielder.

n Infielder Iggy Suarez, back for his third season at Hadlock.

n Infielder Zach Borowiak, back from retirement. He's on the disabled list but will join the Sea Dogs next week.

Besides the additions, there were subtractions. Three former Sea Dogs were released -- reliever Mike James, and outfielder Jay Johnson and Bryan Pritz.

''We had to let go of some good guys,'' Sea Dogs Manager Arnie Beyeler said. ''I won't be surprised to see them catch on somewhere else.

''We have a lot of quality players. It's a nice problem to have in our system.''

Among the top prospects coming to Portland are Doubront, right-handed starter Junichi Tazawa, first baseman Lars Anderson, center fielder Josh Reddick, catcher Mark Wagner and left-hander Dustin Richardson, who is moving from the rotation to the bullpen.

Tazawa, 22, is a free agent from Japan who is in his first season as a professional.

He spurned other offers to sign a major-league contract, including a $1.8 million signing bonus, with the Red Sox.

Tazawa appears to be the ace of the staff and the likely starter Thursday, but no announcement has been made.

The other starters are Adam Mills, Ryne Lawson and Travis Beazley.

Mills started 11 games for Portland last year (4.00 ERA) and Lawson started six (4.06).

There's not a lot of experience in the rotation, but Beyeler doesn't mind ''because they have stuff,'' he said.

The bullpen will have experience, with returning relievers Chad Rhoades, T.J. Large, Richie Lentz and Bryce Cox, along with Richardson.

Wagner, 24, returns for a second year behind the plate. He began last season with great promise, but wore down and finished with a .219 average.

With better numbers, he could find his way to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Juan Apodaca will back up Wagner (last year's backup, John Otness, will remain in extended spring training for now, recovering from knee surgery).

Jon Still will be the third catcher, as well as a designated hitter and backup first baseman.

It's not certain if Bates will play first base at all. He was moved to the outfield to keep him in the lineup because Anderson is cemented at first.

Anderson anchors an infield that finished the season in Portland last year -- second baseman Ryan Khoury, shortstop Argenis Diaz and third baseman Jorge Jimenez.

Reddick and Bubba Bell will join Bates in the outfield. Bell, who suffered a stress fracture in his femur last year, is in his third season in Portland.

The fourth outfielder is Reid Engel, 21, a fifth-round draft pick in 2005. He batted .248 in high Class A last season.

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

kthomas@pressherald.com

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