Friday June 21, 2013 | 05:41 AM

As Garin Cecchini put up lofty numbers in advanced Class A Salem, and then showed over the months that it was no fluke, the speculation about his promotion to the Portland Sea Dogs began.

We wrote about it in Tuesday's column, comparing Cecchini with another Salem star who was promoted at this time last year, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Cecchini batted. 350 for Salem with a 1.016 OPS. As reported Thursday by Alex Speier of, Cecchini is expected to join the Sea Dogs today when they begin a series in Trenton, N.J.

The Sea Dogs already have Michael Almanzar at third base, but Almanzar can also play first base and DH (which he did when the Sea Dogs also had Kolbrin Vitek at third. Vitek has since moved to the outfield).

Third base is an interesting position in the majors, as Boston's Will Middlebrooks continues to struggle. He went 0-for-4 Thursday, dropping his average to .192. Shortstop Jose Iglesias, who has proven he can also play an superb third base, cannot match Middlebrooks' power. But Iglesias is batting .423.

Before Boston figures out third base, it has to decide on a closer. In the past 11 games, Andrew Bailey has blown three saves, allowing four home runs in the process.

Concerning Bailey, Boston manager John Farrell said, "we're going to back him out of there right now ... we'll look at some internal options ..."

Internal? Does that mean Uehara, Tazawa or Miller?

Bailey's blown save Thursday overshadowed a fine start by John Lackey: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K. His ERA dropped to 3.03.

Pawtucket got another impressive start from Brandon Workman: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. He is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA since his promotion from Portland.

Keith Couch moved into the Portland rotation when Workman went up. He improved to 5-2 (4.17 ERA) with six innings of work Thursday: 5 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 4 K.

Jon Lester (6-4) goes tonight for Boston. As pointed out in previous blog post, he has been night and day this season:

Lester's first nine starts: 18 ER in 59 2/3 innings: 2.71

Lester's last six starts: 28 ER in 35 innings: 7.20

The AL East is the tightest race, top to bottom, in the majors:

Red Sox 44-31
Orioles 42-31 (1 game back)
Yankees 39-33 (3.5)
Rays 38-35 (5)
Jays 35-36 (7)


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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