Tuesday July 19, 2011 | 08:46 AM

The question, as they say, seems to be not IF, but WHEN. And when discussing Ryan Lavarnway reaching the majors, there is also the question of HOW.

Can there be any doubt that Boston will call up Lavarnway, by at least September? The former Sea Dogs catcher went 3-for-3 with another home run and a walk in Pawtucket Monday night. In 31 Triple-A games, he is batting .381, with 10 home runs. His on-base percentage is .461, his slugging average .729 (making for a nice 1.180 OPS).

The reason why Lavarnway may have to wait until September, is that there is no room for him on the 25-man roster. The Red Sox have two catchers (Saltalamacchia and Varitek) and a DH (guy named Ortiz).

Major league rosters can be expanded in September with any member from the 40-man roster.

But Lavarnway is not on the 40-man roster yet, so someone would have to go, to make room.

Boston's third catcher on the 40-man, Luis Exposito, has struggled in his first season in Triple-A (.218). It may seem early to give up on Exposito, although Lavarnway and Portland's Tim Federowicz may have already passed him, in terms of being a prospect.

There is also first baseman Lars Anderson (.256, 8 HR). He is only 23, but he is simply insurance against an injury to Adrian Gonzalez.

One way or another, Boston could use the right-handed bat of Lavarnway.

The Red Sox and Yankees both won Monday night. The AL East:

Boston 58-26
New York 56-27 (1.5 back)
Tampa Bay 50-44 (8)

The Rays have 3 more games with the Yankees this week, and will start Hellickson, Price and Shields.

Boston turns again to Kyle Weiland to face the Orioles (and struggling starter Jeremy Guthrie, 3-13). Weiland looked fine in his last start, except for one very bad inning. Assuming he has those first-game jitters out of the way, Weiland could be in for a fine outing.

The Sea Dogs won with two hits apiece from Oscar Tejeda (.264) and Will Middlebrooks (.314). Tejeda is hitting .323 in July, while Middlebrooks now has 11 home runs and 52 RBI in 68 games ... Alex Wilson did not have his best stuff (9 hits in 5/23 IP), but he battled (2 R, 0 BB, 6 K).

Stolmy Pimentel struggled in Salem again: 2 1/3 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 1 K.

Outfielder Bryce Brentz may have been promoted to Salem, but low Class A Greenville still has some exciting outfielders. Brandon Jacobs (322) was 2-for-4 Monday with his 13th home run ... Felix Sanchez (.249) was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases (giving him 33). Sanchez is hitting .311 in July.

Had some technical difficulty with the Twitter Monday night. Hope to be back on line tonight (ClearTheBases)



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.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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