Monday May 23, 2011 | 10:25 AM

Back from a short break for my oldest son's graduation from Loyola Univerrsity (1 college graduation down, 8 to go).

The Red Sox (25-21), who have climbed to within a game of the Yankees (25-20) and Rays (26-21), play at Cleveland today. The surprising Indians feature the best record in the majors: 29-15.

Looking for the worst record in pro baseball? It's not the Portland Sea Dogs, but they are close. The Clinton Lumberjacks (11-33) of the Class A Midwest League are the only team with fewer losses that Portland (12-27).

The Sea Dogs were 8-9 at one point, but have gone 4-18 in their last 22 games. Portland has some prospects, but the performances have not been consistent. Sea Dogs right-hander Stolmy Pimentel (0-6, 7.56) can look real sharp and then there was Sunday's performance in Trenton (1 1/3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 K).

Thankfully, the Sea Dogs return home for 8 days, starting tonight at 6.

Tonight's game in Cleveland features former Sea Dogs Clay Buchholz and Justin Masteron. While they both pitched in Portland in 2007 and '08, they were technically teammates for only a couple of days.

Buchholz (left) pitching his last 2007 game for the Sea Dogs on July 5, before leaving for the Futures All-Star Game and then a promotion to Triple-A. Masterson (below, right) received his promotion to Double-A on July 5, and made his Sea Dogs debut on July 9.

The pitchers were in opposite directions in 2008. Masterson began in Portland and worked his way t the majors and was a key reliever in the playoff run. Buchholz regressed and ended back up in Portland at the end of August to get back to form.

A few Red Sox minor leaguers were promoted, including outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin to Triple-A. Lin, only 22, was batting .268 with a .373 on-base percentage in his second year of Double-A. So why rush him up?

Lin will be eligible for the Rule V draft after the season. The Red Sox will have to decide whether to protect him by adding him to their 40-man roster. Letting him sink or swim in Triple-A seems like a good idea.

An outfielder spot for Lin was opened up when Daniel Nava was designated for assignment (he was taken off the 40-man roster to make room for infielder Drew Sutton). No word yet on if Nava will stay with the organization.

Lin's spot in Portland was taken by Jeremy Hazelbaker, 23, who was batting .279 in Salem.

Another player from Salem appears on the doorstep of a promotion. FIrst-baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez, 25, is batting .314 after going 3-for-5 with his 7th home run.

And, speaking of first basemen, has a short story on former Sea Dogs infielder Anthony RIzzo who leads all of pro baseball with 56 RBI in 40 games. He is also batting .377 (1.193 OPS) with 14 home runs.





About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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