January 23, 2011

On Baseball: Middlebrooks looking to anchor Sea Dogs at third base

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Salem's first baseman for most of last year was Drew Hedman, who batted .230. Greenville had a couple of good hitters at first base, but both Chris McGuiness and Mike Thomas were traded to Texas in the Jarod Saltalamacchia deal.

Hazen said Portland will likely use Jorge Padron, 24, at first. He began last year in Salem and then came to Portland, playing the outfield and batting .286 in 47 games.

Hazen also said a minor league free agent could be brought in, or someone else in-house who could both back up at catcher and first. (Yes, Portland will have Ryan Lavarnway and Tim Federowicz catching, but because one of them will likely DH when not behind the plate, the Sea Dogs could use a third catcher.)

JON STILL is no longer an option at first base. Still played in Portland in 2009, went to spring training last year, but then did not report to Portland.

Still, 26, went home to Mississippi and did not play last year. He never said why, but a lack of playing time may have been an issue.

The Red Sox officially severed ties last week when they released him.

JOSE IGLESIAS is expected back to Portland at the beginning of the season -- maybe. Iglesias, 21, played 57 games for the Sea Dogs in his first full season because of a hand injury.

But he is entering his second season on the 40-man roster and the Red Sox would like to move him along, if he is ready.

"At the end of the season and in the Arizona Fall League he held his own and did well," Hazen said. "He'll come in to big-league camp and probably get a lot of reps early."

RYAN WESTMORELAND was always a welcomed guest at Hadlock Field last year, visiting coaches and some of his former teammates.

Westmoreland, 20, is recovering from brain surgery, performed nearly a year ago, to remove a cavernous malformation.

The outlook is "cautiously optimistic."

"He's down in Fort Myers working out, hitting and throwing," Hazen said. "We're not going to make any hard-line prediction or a time frame when he will come out and actually play in a game. Taking it day by day.

"We're seeing steady progress. It still is going to take a while to get him back to where he was. ... You'd be amazed at the amount of drive in this kid. It's inspiring."

ALSO IN FORT MYERS is former Sea Dogs pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who missed last season because of Tommy John surgery. Hazen said he is throwing and should appear in some spring training games.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:



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