April 4, 2012

Sea Dogs: Look who's back
– most of the team

The Dogs will start the season Thursday at Reading with 18 players who were here last summer.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — They spent the past six weeks in sunshine and high 80-degree temperatures.

click image to enlarge

Sea Dogs outfielder Bryce Brentz rockets a line drive to left field during batting practice at Hadlock Field as part of Media Day activities Tuesday. Portland’s home team, the Double-A minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, opens its 2012 season Thursday at Reading, Pa., and hosts the Binghamton Mets in the home opener on April 12.

Photos by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Brock Huntzinger, returning as one of the starting pitchers for the Sea Dogs, works out in the Hadlock bullpen under the gaze of pitching coach Bob Kipper.

Additional Photos Below

SEA DOGS ROSTER

Tentative roster*

Player (last team played for in 2011)

STARTING PITCHERS

Chris Hernandez (Salem)

Chris Balcom-Miller (Portland)

Billy Buckner (Rockies Triple-A)

Chris Hernandez (Salem)

Brock Huntzinger (Portland)

Chris Martin (Portland)

RELIEF PITCHERS

Caleb Clay (Portland)

Josh Fields (Portland)

Jeremy Kehrt (Portland)

Aaron Kurcz (Cubs advanced A)

Will Latimer (Portland)

Michael Lee (Portland)

Eammon Portice (Portland)

CATCHERS

Dan Butler (Portland)

Jayson Hernandez (Lowell)

Matt Spring (Salem)

INFIELDERS

Ryan Dent (Portland)

Derrick Gibson (Salem)

Jon Hee (Portland)

Heiker Meneses (Salem)

Reynaldo Rodriguez (Portland)

Kolbrin Vitek (Salem)

OUTFIELDERS

Bryce Brentz (Salem)

Ronald Bermudez (Portland)

Jeremy Hazelbaker (Portland)

Peter Hissey (Salem)

Oscar Tejeda (Portland)

EXPECTED SOON

Anthony Ranaudo, pitcher (Salem)

Stolmy Pimentel, pitcher (Salem)

*Roster must be reduced to 25 players by Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Portland Sea Dogs worked out under bright skies. But the first workout in Portland featured temperatures in the 40's, with a cold wind cutting through Hadlock Field.

"Definitely a little bit chilly," said new third baseman Kolbrin Vitek.

The Sea Dogs held their Portland initiation Tuesday, including a workout, meetings with the front office, media interviews and the annual Meet the Sea Dogs dinner.

The team will leave today for its opener Thursday, a doubleheader in Reading, Pa. The Sea Dogs will return next Thursday, April 12, for the 6 p.m. home opener at Hadlock.

The roster includes 18 players who played in Portland last year, 16 who finished the season with the Sea Dogs (catcher Matt Spring and infielder Heiker Meneses finished in advanced Class A Salem).

Tweaking is needed because the roster has 26 players, one over the limit. Someone will go on the inactive or disabled list before the opener.

Also, pitchers Anthony Ranaudo and Stolmy Pimentel aren't on the roster but are expected to join the team soon. Ranaudo (stained groin muscle) and Pimentel (strained lat muscle) both missed some time in spring training and were held back in Florida.

Including Ranaudo (No. 4) and Pimentel (23rd), the Red Sox roster contains seven players ranked among the organization's top 30 prospects by Baseball America magazine -- outfielders Bryce Brentz (No. 5) and Oscar Tejeda (24th), and infielders Vitek (19th), Derrik Gibson (25th) and Meneses (30th).

All of the Sea Dogs were with the Red Sox organization last year except two pitchers -- Bill Buckner and Aaron Kurcz.

Buckner, 28, not only has a name familiar to Red Sox fans (he's not related to the former Boston first baseman), but is the only one on the roster with major league experience.

Buckner made his major league debut with the Kansas City Royals in 2007 (when Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure was with the Royals), and has been up and down from the majors to Triple-A since, with the Royals, Diamondbacks and Tigers. He pitched all last season with the Rockies' Triple-A team (4-8, 6.03 ERA).

He wasn't in Portland on Tuesday because the Red Sox brought him to their exhibition game in Washington D.C. (along with Sea Dogs catcher Dan Butler and infielder Jon Hee).

"He's a veteran guy and hopefully he can soak up some innings for us," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "We only saw him one time in spring training but what we saw, we liked."

Buckner will be in a starting rotation that features Chris Balcom-Miller, Brock Huntzinger, Chris Hernandez and Chris Martin.

Ranaudo, the top pitching prospect for the Red Sox, will headline the rotation once he's ready.

Boles said he will start Balcom-Miller and Martin in Thursday's doubleheader.

Kurcz, 21, had the unique experience of being traded in a deal for a general manager. Kurcz was one of the two players the Cubs sent over in the unique compensation deal involving the former Red Sox general manager, Theo Epstein.

"That was kind of cool. It doesn't happen often," Kurcz said. "It was kind of a shock at first but I'm definitely excited to get going with the Red Sox."

Kurcz is the only reliever who wasn't with the Sea Dogs last year. Josh Fields, obtained from Seattle in the Erik Bedard deal last July, may be the top returning pitcher to the bullpen. He had one save and a 3.12 ERA for Portland last season.

The infield features Vitek at third, Gibson at shortstop, Meneses at second, Reynaldo Rodriguez at first and Ryan Dent anywhere but first. Hee returns as the utility infielder.

The outfield is crowded with five players, including Tejeda, who is being moved from second base. Brentz, who hit 30 home runs in Class A last year, is in right. Peter Hissey is in center and Tejeda will be worked into left field, although the Sea Dogs feature quality depth with Jeremy Hazelbaker and Ronald Bermudez.

The players met the media while sporting their Sea Dogs jerseys, which features a patch on the right sleeve with the initials D.B.B., honoring Dan Burke, the Sea Dogs' owner who died in the offseason at age 82.

 

Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

 

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Heiker Meneses, left, Oscar Tejeda and the rest of the Portland Sea Dogs worked out Tuesday at Hadlock Field for the first time this season, preparing for a doubleheader opener Thursday at Reading. The home opener will be April 12.

  


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