Friday June 03, 2011 | 01:12 AM

Right-hander Kyle Weiland was a closer in college (Notre Dame) and is starting in the Red Sox minor league system, including a stint in Portland (2010). He is getting strikeouts and ground balls, and may be needed in Boston soon.

Sound familiar? Weiland's path has been blazed before by Justin Masterson, a college reliever who was starting in the minor league system (Portland, end of 2007, start of '08). A strikeout/ground ball pitcher, Masterson was summoned to Boston, first as a starter, then as a reliable reliever.

Masterson was traded to Cleveland in 2009, but now here comes Weiland. He has a 3.10 ERA in Pawtucket, with 61 strikeouts in 54 innings.

In his start Thursday, Weiland went 6 IP: 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. Of the 10 other outs he got, 7 were on the ground.

One difference from Masterson: Weiland is tough on lefties. They are batting .186 against him. Right-handers are hitting .252.

With Dice-K and Rich Hill likely gone, the call for Weiland may come sooner.

Portland also got good pitching Thursday, as struggling Brock Huntzinger (7.11 ERA) came off the DL and threw six shutout innings: 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K ... Caleb Clay (7.97) had one of his best relief outings: 1 2/3 IP, 2 BB, 2 K).

Blake Maxwell (1.29), just down from Pawtucket to help out, got the save (1 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 2 K).

The Sea Dogs won 1-0 on Will Middlebrooks' 8th home run of the year, in the seventh inning.

Three former Sea Dogs (and former Red Sox) swapped uniforms.

Catcher Dusty Brown was called back up to the majors this week, with the Pirates. He had signed a minor league free agent contract with Pittsburgh in the off-season and had been in Triple-A.

Pitcher Robert Coello, traded to the Cubs in the off-season, was designated for assignment by Chicago. Coello, who had a 7.82 ERA in Triple-A, cleared waivers and was sent to the Cub's Double-A team in Tennessee.

Manny Delcarmen, who had a 5.14 ERA with Seattle's Triple-A team in Tacoma, was released. The Rangers signed him and sent him to their Triple-A team in Round Rock, Texas.

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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