The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Portland Sea Dogs Sat, 27 Aug 2016 04:21:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dubon, Tavarez spark Sea Dogs Sat, 27 Aug 2016 01:59:29 +0000 Starting pitcher Keith Couch turned in a solid performance and the top of the lineup came through in a big way as the Portland Sea Dogs rolled to a 9-6 win against the Trenton Thunder in an Eastern League baseball game at Hadlock Field on Friday night.

Couch allowed one run while scattering three hits in six innings to run his record to a team-best 9-4.

“He mixes pitches well and kept the defense engaged the entire outing,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said.

Couch, who left the game with an 8-1 lead, got all the support he needed from the first three hitters in the Portland lineup.

Between them, Yoan Moncada, Mauricio Dubon and Aneury Tavarez collected 10 of the team’s 15 hits and scored all but one of its runs.

“Tavarez and Dubon have been great for the last two months, so it’s no surprise what they did tonight,” Febles said.

Dubon hit three doubles and two singles and scored three runs, while Tavarez drove in three runs with a single, double and triple. Moncada, who singled twice and walked, scored three runs.

“If Moncada can get on base in front of those two guys you feel you feel you’ve got a shot,” Febles said.

Tavarez is hitting a league-leading .335. Dubon, who started the season in Class A Salem, leads the Sea Dogs with a .352 average, but he won’t have enough at bats to qualify for the batting title.

“You always want to have speed in the top of the lineup and having three guys who can run is huge,” Febles said. “That creates a lot of opportunities for the middle of the lineup.”

Nate Freiman, who batted cleanup, drove in two runs with a double and single. Cody Decker, Ryan Court and Jake Romanski each hit sacrifice flies.

Brandon Workman, who played a key role for the Red Sox in the 2013 playoffs, continued his comeback from Tommy John surgery by making his third relief appearance for the Sea Dogs. He allowed five runs and six hits, including two home runs, in 21/3 innings.

“He had 55-60 pitches to work with,” Febles said. Workman threw 38 of 58 pitches for strikes.

“He got tired after a long eighth inning and the ball was not coming out of his hand the same way in the ninth,” Febles said.

NOTES: St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Brandon Moss and former Portland manager Todd Claus are the 2016 inductees into the Sea Dogs Hall of Fame. Both were part of the 2006 team that won the Eastern League title. Claus is now in the Red Sox scouting department.

]]> 0 Fri, 26 Aug 2016 23:29:39 +0000
Sea Dogs down Trenton, 4-3 Fri, 26 Aug 2016 02:05:35 +0000 The comparison is entirely unfair, but Mauricio Dubon is putting up Mookie Betts-type numbers with the Portland Sea Dogs.

Dubon, 22, went 3 for 4 with a home run, RBI double and single Thursday night to lead Portland to a 4-3 win over the Trenton Thunder at Hadlock Field.

Betts was 21 when he began the 2014 season in Portland. He batted .355 with 18 doubles, three triples and six home runs in 54 games before his promotion to Triple-A.

Dubon, in 52 games with the Sea Dogs since his promotion from Class A Salem, is batting .337 with 17 doubles, six triples and five home runs.

“He’s been money since Day 1,” said Manager Carlos Febles, who also managed Dubon in Salem last year. “He’s a thousand-times better hitter than what I saw last year (.274).

“He stays back (with the bat) and his hands are working pretty good. The ball jumps off his bat. He’s been impressive.”

Dubon doesn’t receive much hype, playing in the shadow of Boston’s stellar young players (including Betts), but he’s having a breakout year.

“I’m just keeping things simple,” Dubon said. “Last year I tried (quick fixes) when I struggled. Now when I go 0 for 4 I try to learn from it … And I’m definitely stronger from last year. I worked out a lot in the offseason and it’s paying off.”

Dubon’s double off reliever Caleb Smith (2-5) scored Tzu-Wei Lin to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh. Earlier he swatted a curveball over the left-field wall off Trenton starter Ronald Herrera.

Sea Dogs starter Mitch Atkins (5-7) struck out 10 and took over the Eastern League lead with 132, allowing three runs on seven hits over seven innings.

Luis Ysla allowed a walk and single in the ninth but escaped for his third save.

Nate Freiman had two RBI for Portland (52-76), both on groundouts.

Yoan Moncada (1 for 4) singled in the first and scored, also striking out twice.

Mark Payton’s two-run homer and Dustin Fowler’s RBI triple produced the runs for Trenton (81-50).

NOTES: Lin, normally a middle infielder, played the outfield for only the second time. … The announced paid attendance was 5,072. … One of those fans was Mike Davis of Falmouth, who was the Sea Dogs’ 9-millionth fan in the team’s 23rd season. … The Sea Dogs will announce their Hall of Fame inductees before Friday’s game. … Also, the first 1,000 fans will receive a Sea Dogs baseball card set. … The annual and popular Field of Dreams game is at 6 p.m. Saturday. Only 90 tickets remain. … Almost 600 tickets remain for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game, the final home game of the season.

In Eastern League news, league president Joe McEacharn announced that Hartford could lose its franchise if its stadium isn’t completed soon. The Hartford Yard Goats, formerly the New Britain Rock Cats, had to play on the road all year because of stadium construction delays and legal issues. McEacharn didn’t give an exact deadline for the stadium to be completed, nor specify where the Yard Goats would move if the stadium wasn’t ready.

]]> 0, 25 Aug 2016 23:45:00 +0000
Freiman walk-off homer gives Sea Dogs 10-7 win Thu, 25 Aug 2016 01:23:09 +0000 It turned from ugly to thrilling at Hadlock Field on Wednesday night.

Nate Freiman swatted a three-run walk-off homer over the left-field wall in the ninth inning to give the Portland Sea Dogs a 10-7 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before a capacity crowd of 7,368.

No one expected that much excitement after Portland fell behind 5-0 while making three errors in the first two innings.

“The game didn’t start off the way we would have liked,” Freiman said.

The Sea Dogs rallied, scoring four runs in the seventh to jump ahead 7-6. New Hampshire tied it in the eighth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Tzu-Wei Lin led off with a single against Brady Dragmire (4-6). Mauricio Dubon sacrificed Lin to second and Aneury Tavarez singled to put runners on first and third. Freiman then smacked Dragmire’s 2-0 pitch for the win.

“It was a slider,” said Freiman, sounding surprised. “I was just trying to be ready early and see it.

“I was trying to get something up and stay out of a double play. I wasn’t thinking home run, just something elevated.”

Freiman also had an RBI double. His home run was his 10th of the season and his second walk-off hit of the year. He had a game-winning single in May shortly after signing with the Red Sox as a minor league free agent.

Portland reliever Ben Taylor (1-0) got the win, pitching the final 12/3 innings.

Sea Dogs starter Kevin McAvoy rallied from his early struggles, providing 62/3 innings. He allowed six runs (three earned) on eight hits, one walk and one hit batter. He struck out three.

“It could have been worse but after the second inning he settled down nicely,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “Really pleased with the way he pitched.”

This was McAvoy’s sixth straight start allowing three earned runs or less.

“(McAvoy) was huge for us,” Freiman said. “He gave us a chance to win.”

The Sea Dogs were paced by Ryan Court’s two doubles and one RBI. Dubon (2 for 4) had a key RBI single in the seventh and Tavarez (2 for 5) hit a two-run single in the seventh that tied it.

“The offense showed some courage tonight,” Febles said.

Center fielder Cole Sturgeon (1 for 3, RBI) made two impressive over-the-shoulder catches in the left-center gap, and also charged a fly ball and then doubled off the runner at first base in the fifth inning.

NOTES: Top Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada took the night off. Moncada is being handled carefully after spraining an ankle almost three weeks ago. He played in three of Portland’s previous four games. … Tavarez is now batting .332, the best in the Eastern League … The Sea Dogs (51-76) will be home against the Yankees-affiliated Trenton Thunder from Thursday through Sunday. The Thunder (81-49) are close to clinching a playoff spot. … Before Thursday’s game, the Sea Dogs expect to welcome their nine-millionth fan. … The Fisher Cats (62-68) travel to Reading, Pennsylvania. … In advanced Class A, future Sea Dogs starter Michael Kopech pitched one-hit shutout ball over seven innings, walking two and striking out 10. He has a 1.23 ERA for Salem.

]]> 0, 24 Aug 2016 22:43:17 +0000
Another Razorback hopes to join the Red Sox Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:03 +0000 In his second season in college, pitcher Jalen Beeks noticed a new player on the team, a smallish outfielder.

“You could see his talent as a freshman,” Beeks said. “I thought he was going to be all-conference (as a sophomore).

“But nobody saw that coming … who knew he would be the seventh overall (draft pick in 2015)?”

Now Beeks sees Andrew Benintendi manning left field for the Boston Red Sox.

“We watch him all the time (on TV) in the clubhouse,” Beeks said.

Beeks has already been Benintendi’s teammate on four teams – the University of Arkansas (2014), Greenville last year, then Salem and Portland this season. Beeks would like to join him one more time, in the majors.

Beeks, 23, a 14th-round draft pick in 2014, is the only starting pitcher promoted from Salem this season. The left-hander improved his record to 5-3 with the Sea Dogs on Tuesday night with an 8-2 victory against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

With a fastball touching 90-92 mph and three other pitches, Beeks gave up two runs on five hits and four walks over five innings, striking out one. He lowered his ERA a tick to 4.47, second-best among Sea Dogs starters.

At a time when the Red Sox pitching depth is not so deep, Beeks could develop into a prospect.

The promotion to Portland came in early June after Beeks posted a 3.07 ERA. He totaled 11 earned runs in his first three Double-A starts.

“Guys just have better approaches, more experience here,” Beeks said. “Some guys have been in the big leagues. It was just a big learning curve.”

He has had a few hiccups since but mostly has settled in.

“He had that little adjustment time,” Sea Dogs pitching coach Kevin Walker said. “He’s had some struggles but he’s starting to figure it out and starting to learn how to pitch.”

At Arkansas, Beeks went from reliever his freshman year (2.20 ERA) to starter as a sophomore (1.98). But he only made 13 starts because of a sprained ulnar collateral (elbow) ligament.

Bad timing. Beeks was eligible for the 2014 draft.

“I didn’t pitch the month leading into the draft,” said Beeks, who likely dropped down draft boards because of the injury. “I think so, but you never know with the draft.

“But I’m in Double-A now. I’m happy to be here. I play for the Red Sox. Now it’s just about getting to the big leagues.”

The jump to the majors is obviously the biggest leap a pitcher can make. The second- biggest may be to Double-A, a level that separates the pitchers from the throwers.

“This is really a mental leap. You can get guys out … but the experience level is so much better. Being able to repeat pitches (is important),” Beeks said.

“I obviously have a lot to learn. Really it’s just experience and learning, and battling adversity.”

Beeks does battle. Despite the bumps he’s had in Double-A, every start except one has gone at least five innings.

“The big thing for me is his poise and composure on the mound,” Walker said. “He doesn’t let any situation get too big. He’s always able to calm down and make that one pitch when he needs to.”

Beeks looked in big trouble early Tuesday, starting with a leadoff walk and then a line drive single. After a double play, Beeks gave up back-to-back RBI doubles.

Beeks gave up only two more hits, but also ran up his pitch count with three more walks.

“I still have to work on fastball control,” Beeks said. “All of my pitches are still developing. The slider sometimes gets kind of loopy instead of hard and down. The curveball is still a work in progress. So is the change-up.

“I have good days and bad days.”

In 561/3 Double-A innings, Beeks has 45 strikeouts and 24 walks.

He’s expected to return to Portland at the start of 2017. He will be facing a key season, a time for Beeks to put his experience to work for him. Maybe then he can realistically look forward to a reunion with his Arkansas teammate, in Boston.

]]> 0, 23 Aug 2016 22:43:03 +0000
Moncada’s three-run homer propels Sea Dogs win Wed, 24 Aug 2016 02:15:07 +0000 Yoan Moncada not only can hit a baseball far, he also works the count, refusing to chase bad pitches.

Moncada did all that Tuesday night. Besides walking four times, he launched a three-run homer to lead the Portland Sea Dogs to an 8-2 victory over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before 4,869 at Hadlock Field.
Jake Romanski joined in the offense with a 3-for-4 night, with two RBI and a double.

Jalen Beeks (5-3) got the win with five innings of work (five hits, two runs).

New Hampshire took a 2-0 lead in the first but Beeks rebounded, and his teammates more than backed him up.

Moncada worked the count full in each of his walks, including leading off the bottom of the first.

“I don’t chase,” Moncada said.

Those are words that hitting coach Jon Nunnally loves to hear.

“I like the walks,” Nunnally said. “Shows some patience. Shows some discipline, laying off (bad) pitches.

“The more he can do that, the more he will get pitches where he can do damage.”

In the first, Moncada scored on Nate Freiman’s double, closing the score to 2-1.

In the second, Moncada did the damage, giving Portland the lead. After singles by Cole Sturgeon and Tzu-Wei Lin, Moncada came up with two outs and worked a 2-1 count against Jeremy Gabryszwski (7-11).

Gabryszwski delivered a 93 mph fastball on the lower half of the strike zone. Moncada pounced, crushing a ball over the wall in right-center. The exit velocity was 102 mph and the estimated distance was 411 feet.

It was Moncada’s 10th home run in 39 Double-A games. He’s batting .285. He has 23 walks and a .386 on-base percentage, and a .563 slugging average.

Moncada also looked sharp again at third base, making a diving stop and throwing the runner out at first.

Romanski got his average back to .300 with his three hits, and Aneury Tavarez (2 for 3, walk) remains the Eastern League batting leader with a .334 average. Sturgeon and Lin also had two hits.

Three relievers kept New Hampshire hitless over the last four innings – Williams Jerez (two innings, two walks, four strikeouts), Ty Buttrey (one inning, one walk, one strikeout) and Luis Ysla (one inning, one strikeout).

NOTES: The Sea Dogs (50-76) and Fisher Cats (62-67) play again at 6 p.m. Wednesday. A fireworks show will follow the game. … Reliever Austin Maddox was returned to the Sea Dogs’ roster from Pawtucket.

]]> 0, 23 Aug 2016 23:12:29 +0000
Fisher Cats shut out Sea Dogs Tue, 23 Aug 2016 01:41:38 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs began their final homestand of the 2016 season with a whimper.

Portland featured solid pitching and some fine defense, with third baseman Yoan Moncada looking settled in.

But the Sea Dogs managed only four hits in a 4-0 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before 4,979 at Hadlock Field.

Portland starter Teddy Stankiewicz (4-9) allowed three runs over six innings, giving up only four hits. But two of those hits were Derrick Loveless’ two-run triple in the second inning and Dwight Smith’s solo home run in the fifth.

Former Sea Dogs and Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway hit a solo home run in the ninth, off his old teammate, Brandon Workman.

New Hampshire starter Conner Greene (5-5) recorded the win, giving up three hits in seven innings. Greene, the Toronto Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect, walked two and struck out one.

Moncada reached base three times, with a ground-ball single to center field and two walks.

Moncada made his Hadlock debut at third base – a position he switched to last week. He showcased his quickness by easily getting under a shallow fly ball down the left-field line. He also handled a routine grounder with no problem and later backhanded a grounder down the line and threw the runner out at first.

But Moncada’s most impressive play may have been an infield single by Roemon Fields, one of the league’s fastest players with 39 steals. Fields hit a dribbler – also known as a “swinging bunt” – down the third-base line. Moncada charged and fired a quick-wristed throw to almost get Fields.

“I’m impressed with how quick he got rid of it … Fields is the only guy he could not (have thrown out),” said Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles, who has been working with Moncada at his new position.

“He made a nice backhand play and good throw across. He’s getting comfortable there.”

Catcher Jake Romanski continued his impressive season behind the plate with a league-leading 50-percent success rate in throwing out base-stealers (50 of 100). He threw out 1 of 2 on Monday and also picked Christian Lopes off first base following a leadoff walk.

“The guy can catch and throw, no doubt about it,” Febles said.

Stankiewicz recorded his 13th quality start (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs) in 23 starts, lowering his ERA to 4.98.

Workman made his second rehab appearance with the Sea Dogs, working the last three innings (two hits, one run and two strikeouts). His fastball ranged from 88 to 90 mph.

Portland (49-76) saw the end of its three-game winning streak, and New Hampshire (62-66) still has hopes for a winning season.

NOTES: Aneury Tavarez went 0 for 4 to drop his average to .331, which still leads the Eastern League … Right-handed reliever Austin Maddox was sent to Pawtucket and relieved Monday night, pitching a scoreless 12/3 innings, walking one and striking out one … Maddox relieved starter Brian Johnson, who allowed one run in 5½ innings.

]]> 0, 22 Aug 2016 23:13:50 +0000
Atkins, Sea Dogs shut down Mets Sat, 20 Aug 2016 02:23:37 +0000 BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Mitch Atkins has started more games than any active pitcher in minor-league baseball.

Not many of his starts were better than his effort Friday night.

Atkins struck out nine in seven scoreless innings to lead the Portland Sea Dogs to a 3-0 win over the Binghamton Mets in the opener of a three-game Eastern League series.

“That’s the best I’ve felt in a while,” the 30-year-old right-hander said.

Atkins (4-7) combined with Jake Drehoff and Luis Ysla on a four-hitter. Ysla pitched a hitless ninth for the save.

Binghamton managed just three singles and put two runners in scoring position against Atkins.

“The story of his game was his fastball. He got 14 swings and misses with it,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “He got his cutter working for him, too. He had a good curve to mix in, too.

“Something he did well was work ahead and force the opposition to swing at pitches out of the zone.”

The former seventh-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs out of Elon University has started 240 games for five different farm systems. He has 10 major league appearances, with the Cubs and the Orioles.

“I had another good game where I had a no-hitter going, those two are probably the best I’ve had in a long time,” Atkins said. “I really can’t put a finger on it. You just keep working and try to figure something out.

“Something clicked early on and I just kind of rode it.”

Atkins ranks second among active minor league pitchers in innings pitched (1,400) and strikeouts (94), and is fourth with 86 wins. He has a 4.66 earned-run average this season.

“If I could throw like that all the time, if I could take that stuff out there, I’d be real happy,” Atkins said. “It was a lot of fastballs and cutters. I was real aggressive with those and tried to move the fastball in and out and up and down.”

Mauricio Dubon and Cody Decker had solo home runs for the game’s first two hits and first two runs.

Dubon connected with one out in the third and Decker with one out in the fourth.

Atkins retired the first eight batters he faced and did not give up a hit until the fourth inning.

His nine strikeouts were a season high. He did not walk a batter while throwing 71 of 98 pitches for strikes.

Henry Ramos singled home the last run in the sixth inning.

The series concludes with games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

]]> 0 Fri, 19 Aug 2016 23:23:20 +0000
McAvoy gets complete-game win for Sea Dogs Fri, 19 Aug 2016 01:07:45 +0000 Kevin McAvoy was one misplaced pitch away from being out of the game. Ryan Court felt he had been scuffling at the plate all month.

Both Sea Dogs made successful adjustments Thursday night that proved critical in Portland’s 2-1 Eastern League victory against the Altoona Curve at Hadlock Field that earned a split of a four-game series.

McAvoy stranded runners at second and third in the third, fourth and fifth innings, then found his groove over the final two frames to pitch a seven-inning five-hitter.

Earlier on Thursday, the Curve (68-55) won the completion of Tuesday’s game 2-1. That game, also shortened to seven innings, had been suspended in the bottom of the fourth inning because of rain. Portland (47-74) and Altoona split a doubleheader on Wednesday.

McAvoy struck out the side in the sixth, getting ahead with off-speed pitches to complement a biting two-seam fastball that handcuffed Altoona’s right-handed batters. McAvoy also worked a clean seventh to improve to 8-7 with a 5.64 ERA.

“Probably more important though was getting out of trouble and making an adjustment,” said McAvoy, a 2014 fourth-round pick. “Being able to have (pitching coach Kevin) Walker come out and calm me down and then make better pitches, in the long run that’s a bigger part.”

Walker’s visit came in the fourth after McAvoy had walked the Curve’s No. 8 and 9 batters to load the bases. He got Elvis Escobar to ground to first.

In the fifth, Altoona’s Jin-De Jhang stung an opposite-field double to left to put runners at second and third with one out. Again McAvoy escaped, helped by second baseman Tzu-Wei Lin’s good reaction to snare a sinking liner by Anderson Feliz.

Altoona starter Cody Dickson (10-5, 3.83 ERA) didn’t allow a hit until Court stroked a clean single in the fourth. Court said he consciously tried to treat his at-bats like batting practice.

“That at-bat I felt really loose and relaxed and I hit a line drive that was free and easy,” Court said.

Then on a 3-2 count in the sixth, Court flicked a hard grounder down the right field line for a two-run single.

“With one out, I was just making sure I put the ball in play,” Court said. “Helping the team is bigger than me in that situation.”

NOTES: Thursday’s announced paid attendance was 5,625. … Top Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada sat out for a fifth straight day because of his sprained ankle. … In the completion of the suspended game Altoona’s Miguel Rosario and Portland’s Austin Maddox both pitched three perfect innings – even though Portland scored a run with Rosario on the mound. The game resumed with Altoona leading 2-0, Dubon on second base, and Rosario inheriting a 2-1 count on Court. Court drew a walk, charged to original starter Tyler Eppler. Dubon advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Cody Decker’s sacrifice fly.

]]> 0 Thu, 18 Aug 2016 22:16:44 +0000
On Baseball: Joey Cora has a big-league resume and a minor league job Thu, 18 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 He was a major league all-star infielder who also spent nine years as a major league coach, six years as a bench coach under a successful manager, Ozzie Guillen.

So why is Joey Cora managing the Altoona Curve and not a major league team?

“Very good question,” said Portland Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles. “The guy has a good resume. Was a bench coach for many years; was known as one of the smartest players in the game.

“That’s a guy you’d expect to be managing in the big leagues.”

Yet on Wednesday night, Cora managed the Curve against Febles’ Sea Dogs.

Hadlock Field featured two managers who are natives of Latin America (Cora from Puerto Rico, Febles the Dominican Republic).

That’s two more than are in major league baseball.

When the Atlanta Braves fired Cuban-born (and former Sea Dogs manager) Fredi Gonzalez in May, that left no Latin managers in the majors, although Latin Americans account for nearly 30 percent of players.

“The system and the interview process have not been fair to Latin Americans,” said Cora, 51, who has interviewed for six major league managing jobs with no offers.

There are only two minorities managing in the big leagues, both African-American – veteran Dusty Baker (Nationals) and first-timer Dave Roberts (Dodgers).

In 1999, then-commissioner Bud Selig ruled that major league teams had to interview minority candidates when filling vacancies for leadership positions, including general manager and field manager.

Before 1999 there had been only four Latin full-time (not interim) managers – Preston Gomez, Cookie Rojas, Felipe Alou and Tony Perez.

Since then there have been only six more native Latin- American managers – Tony Pena, Carlos Tosca (another former Sea Dogs manager), Guillen, Manny Acta, Edwin Rodriguez and Gonzalez.

Cora said the problem with the “Selig Rule” is teams interview Latins and other minorities with no intention of hiring them.

“Sometimes we get interviewed to get a check mark because they have to interview minorities,” Cora said. “But the people who are doing the interviews are not as prepared to interview us – or haven’t been.”

That lack of preparation becomes obvious when, for example, an interviewer is surprised to learn Cora attended Vanderbilt.

Cora said he grew up wanting to manage.

“My dream wasn’t to be a major league baseball player. My dream always, when I was little, was to be a big league manager,” he said. “But everybody has different dreams. That’s the way it goes.”

When Cora’s 12-year playing career was over after the 1998 season, he moved into coaching, managing in the minor leagues from 2001-03 before joining Guillen’s staff with the Chicago White Sox.

Cora went with Guillen to the Marlins in 2012. When Guillen was fired, Cora was gone, too. He’s been out of baseball the past three years – “I’ve been with my kids” – until the Pirates called about the Altoona job.

Cora won’t speak about future goals. “The goal is to get these guys to be better persons and better people,” he said.

Cora’s name still is floated when it comes to future managerial candidates, although his younger brother, Alex Cora, 40, may be higher on the list. Alex Cora, a former Red Sox infielder and now an ESPN commentator, interviewed for at least three openings last year – the Nationals, Padres and Marlins.

This is the first time since 1991 there has been no Latin Americans managing in the majors – there were as many as four at one time, in 2011. It seems a matter of time before more Latins are managing again.

Besides the Cora brothers, other Latin American managerial candidates include Sandy Alomar (Indians first base coach), Omar Vizquel (Tigers first base coach), Luis Rivera (Blue Jays third base coach) and Roberto Kelly (Giants third base coach).

Febles might someday be on that list.

“Every coach should dream of one day being in the big leagues,” said Febles, 40, who is in his first year as a Double-A manager.

Reaching the big leagues as a coach or manager, said Febles, is a matter of making contacts.

“You’ve got to know the right people,” Febles said. “You’ve got to keep working and learning, and get the right opportunity.

“I don’t care if you’re white, black or Latin, you have to prove yourself in order to manage in the big leagues.”


]]> 0, 17 Aug 2016 22:06:32 +0000
Sea Dogs get a split with Curve Wed, 17 Aug 2016 23:45:33 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs kept the top of the batting order in place for a doubleheader Wednesday night, and both Aneury Tavarez and Mauricio Dubon delivered.

The two combined for seven hits as the Sea Dogs and the Altoona Curve split two games at Hadlock Field.

Portland won the first game 4-3. Altoona won the second 7-4 on Johnathan Schwind’s sixth-inning grand slam.

Tavarez led off for Portland and recorded a 4-for-6 night with two runs. He continues to lead the Eastern League in batting at .340 and is closing in on Kevin Millar’s franchise record of .342 in 1997.

Dubon went 3 for 6 with four RBI, including a two-run homer in Game 2, his third of the season. Dubon is batting .319.

Portland also got home runs from Nate Freiman (solo shot, first game) and Cole Sturgeon (two-run blast, Game 2).

Portland (46-74) is still last in the Eastern League East Division. The Curve (67-54) lead the West by 4½ games.

In the first game, Altoona had seven hits and 10 walks against three Portland pitchers but left 12 on base.

Ty Buttrey (1-9) got his first Double-A win with 11/3 innings of relief. Ben Taylor pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for his fourth save.

Boston Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman, coming back from Tommy John surgery last year, made a rehab appearance, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks over 12/3 innings.

Workman left with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. Buttrey entered and induced a groundout to keep the score 3-3.

In the bottom of the fifth, Rainel Rosario and Tavarez singled. Rosario scored the winning run on a Dubon groundout.

In the second game, Sea Dogs starter Jalen Beeks (4-3) left with two runners on and Portland up 4-3. Williams Jerez relieved and gave up a single, then Schwind’s blast to right field.

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 5,585. … Top Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada sat out a fourth straight day because of his sprained ankle. Moncada did take pregame grounders at third base and took part in batting practice. … Freiman’s home run was his ninth. … The Sea Dogs and Curve return to Hadlock on Thursday. At 5 p.m., the teams will resume a game suspended by rain Tuesday night (Altoona is leading 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth). A second game will begin at 7 p.m.

]]> 0 Wed, 17 Aug 2016 22:58:11 +0000
On Baseball: Workman’s back to work, and that could spell relief for Red Sox later this season Wed, 17 Aug 2016 02:20:31 +0000 Brandon Workman walked through the Portland Sea Dogs’ clubhouse at Hadlock Field Tuesday afternoon, grabbing a pregame meal and ready to pitch that night. Those plans were canceled when the Sea Dogs-Altoona Curve doubleheader was postponed by rain.

Workman will likely pitch Wednesday, continuing his comeback.

With the Red Sox in contention, Workman hopes to get a call to the majors, pitch in the playoffs and, who knows, maybe appear in the deciding game for a World Series championship.

Hmmm. Seems like we’ve heard this story before.

Workman, who turned 28 on Saturday, last pitched for the Sea Dogs in 2013. That was the year he vaulted from minor league starter to Red Sox reliever at the end of the year. In the postseason, Workman allowed no earned runs in seven appearances, including a 1-2-3 eighth inning in the deciding Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park.

Quite a rush.

Now Workman wants to get back. He reported to Portland on Tuesday, on a rehab assignment as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in June of last year.

“It’s definitely been a long process,” Workman said. “You hear 12 months (recovery time) and that’s what you set your sights on. It’s been a little bit longer than that.”

Workman initially came back in early July with an appearance in the Gulf Coast League and another in short-season Lowell. It would be a boost if Workman could pitch his way back and help a beleaguered Boston bullpen.

But in that Lowell outing on July 8, Workman suffered an oblique strain and he was sent back to Fort Myers, Florida, for medical treatment.

Reaching the majors this year is a longshot … but one that Workman is not giving up on.

“I still have (that goal),” he said. “Hopefully I can pitch well and, come September, see what happens.”

Workman returned to Lowell on Aug. 1 and made four appearances, working his way to three innings in his fourth outing on Aug. 11.

Next stop: Portland.

“I feel good right now,” he said. “The pitching is coming along. It’s getting a little sharper each time out. I just need to keep building off that.

“It’s been a year and a half since I’ve thrown a ball competitively. Getting the rust knocked off, getting into a rhythm out there, getting comfortable on the mound.”

It seems Workman has always been comfortable on the mound, from his days at Bowie (Texas) High School in 2007 (when he was drafted by the Phillies in the third round, but turned them down), to his three seasons at the University of Texas, before being drafted by Boston in the second round in 2010.

Workman reached Portland in 2012 and, the next year, was part of a celebrated starting foursome that included Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Britton.

Britton and Workman reached Boston that year, and Workman stuck on the roster.

After his World Series fun, Workman returned to mostly starting in 2014. In 15 major league starts, he was 1-9 with a 5.36 ERA. The numbers were worse than his performance – 11 of his starts featured three earned runs or fewer – but Workman still seemed destine for relief work.

He didn’t get another chance. Workman began the 2015 season on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Boston hoped Workman could avoid surgery, but he finally underwent Tommy John surgery in June.

Now he is working his way back. When healthy, Workman’s fastball averaged 91 with him topping 95 often. He also often threw a cutter and curveball, along with an occasional change-up.

In Lowell earlier this month, Workman said his fastball was around 90 mph.

“His fastball is coming along,” said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. “His off-speed (pitches are) looking really good.”

If Workman can build up his arm strength, he could be a surprising option for Boston’s bullpen down the stretch. Why not? Workman has already been tested in high-pressure games.


]]> 0, 17 Aug 2016 19:54:25 +0000
Sea Dogs games rained out Wed, 17 Aug 2016 00:24:16 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs’ scheduled doubleheader with the Altoona Curve Tuesday night at Hadlock Field was interrupted by rain.

Altoona led the first game 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning when the rain began. That game was suspended and will resume at 5 p.m. Thursday. Thursday’s regularly scheduled game will follow at 7 p.m.

The teams were already scheduled to play a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Because the teams aren’t scheduled to play again after Thursday, the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader will not be made up.

]]> 0 Tue, 16 Aug 2016 21:22:39 +0000
Red Sox Farm Report: Couch appears to hit ceiling Tue, 16 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Keith Couch has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the Boston minor league system for the past seven years, but the Red Sox seem content to let go him at the end of this season.

Couch has a career 51-42 record with a 3.89 ERA. In Double-A, he is 27-9 with a 3.22 ERA.

Couch, 26, had one solid chance in Triple-A and floundered in 2015 (4-10, 6.14). He began this year with two appearances in Pawtucket before being sent back to Portland. He has bounced back up to Triple-A occasionally, but has spent most of this season in the Eastern League.

“He struggled in Triple-A last year and we currently don’t have a rotation spot (in Pawtucket) available,” said Boston’s director of player development, Ben Crockett.

Couch can read the writing on the locker room wall. He will be a minor league free agent after this season.

“It’s nothing I can control,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and pitch.

“I’m pitching for me. I’m trying to get a job next year.”

Couch had two obstacles when he became a pro in 2010. For one, Couch was a 13th-round draft pick from Division II Adelphi University on Long Island, New York – not necessary the pedigree of a prospect.

Second, Couch doesn’t have a dominant pitch. He’s not a pitcher who can blow away hitters, but rather he throws strikes and hopes to go deep into ballgames.

When Couch first came to Portland in 2013, the Sea Dogs’ rotation was loaded with the likes of Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman and Drake Britton. Couch was initially sent to the pen. Later, he would join the rotation. Couch finished 11-3 with a 3.47 ERA (8-1, 2.98 as a starter).

An injury limited Couch to 18 games in 2014 (8-2, 2.96), but he was called up to Pawtucket for the playoffs and won the championship game with 62/3 shutout innings.

But Couch’s 2015 season did not go well. His four-pitch mix of a 91 mph sinking fastball, slider, curve and change-up was not effective. He still led Pawtucket in innings (1242/3), however.

Maybe if Couch was a top prospect, he might have received another chance. But the 2016 Pawtucket roster was filled with starters from the beginning, from leftovers Henry Owens and Brian Johnson, to promoted William Cuevas and recently acquired pitchers Roenis Elias and Sean O’Sullivan. Later, Eduardo Rodriguez would spend time in Triple-A, and eventually Aaron Wilkerson and Justin Haley were promoted from Portland.

In Couch’s last two starts in Pawtucket, July 15 and 20, he pitched seven innings in each, allowing a combined 12 hits, three earned runs and no walks while striking out 12. He made a relief appearance July 24 (31/3 innings, one run) but has been in Portland since. He has allowed one earned run in his last two starts.

“The guy knows how to pitch,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “He uses both corners. Does a good job pitching inside, and that opens up the outer half.”

Couch, who is 8-4 with a 3.16 ERA in Portland this year, hopes a job will open up in 2017, with any team.

“I just want to keep having success and hopefully something happens next year,” Couch said. “I want to keep playing baseball.”

IN PAWTUCKET, Haley is shining with a 7-3 record, 2.78 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. He has not allowed an earned run in his last three starts, including Friday’s eight-inning, two-hit scoreless outing at Buffalo. … Johnson has allowed four earned runs in his last three starts (181/3 innings).

Catcher Christian Vazquez may be pushing to get back to Boston. In his last nine games, he’s batting .367 (11 for 30) with two doubles.

Remember Rusney Castillo, the Triple-A player who is making $10 million? Maybe he can make a comeback at age 29. In his last 13 games, he’s batting .420 (21 for 50) with two doubles and four triples.

IN PORTLAND, Yoan Moncada, 21, finally moved to third base for a game. But he has missed the last two because of a troublesome ankle he sprained the week before. Red Sox Manager John Farrell said Moncada will likely go to the Arizona Fall League to continue playing third base. … Mauricio Dubon, 22, is batting .313 with an .831 OPS in 43 games.

IN SALEM, pitcher Michael Kopech, 20, struck out the first six batters Saturday and 11 of the 19 batters he faced. Kopech is 2-1 with a 1.41 ERA in eight games (381/3 inning), with 60 strikeouts and 22 walks. … Rafael Devers, 19 had a two-homer game Thursday, giving him 11 homers this year. In the second half of the season, Devers is batting .332 with a .970 OPS.

IN GREENVILLE, 2014 first-round draft pick and third baseman Michael Chavis, 21 is slumping (.180 in his last 10 games). His numbers are down to .257 with a .748 OPS.

IN LOWELL, Jordan Weems is making strides in his conversion to pitching. Weems, 23, a catcher when Boston drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft, came to Portland this year as a first baseman. After batting .119 in 22 games, he and the Red Sox decided on a position switch. Weems has a combined 3.38 ERA in 13 games (24 innings) at Lowell and in the Gulf Coast League, with 19 strikeouts and seven walks.

IN THE GULF COAST League, 2016 first-round draft pick Jason Groome, 17, has joined the roster. Groome, considered the best high school pitcher in the draft, signed for $3.65 million. He’s expected to pitch before the season ends, but no date has been set. “He is working through his throwing progression right now,” Crockett said.

]]> 1, 15 Aug 2016 21:21:45 +0000
Akron homers twice, shuts out Portland Mon, 15 Aug 2016 03:05:09 +0000 AKRON, Ohio — Jordan Smith and Luigi Rodriguez both homered to lead the Akron RubberDucks to a 3-0 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs on Sunday at Canal Park.

Portland and Akron were originally scheduled to play a doubleheader on Sunday after their game Saturday was postponed. Sunday’s first game was delayed by rain for 4 hours, 4 minutes and the teams played just one nine inning game. The second game will not be made up because the teams do not play again this season.

Nick Pasquale earned the win for the RubberDucks (60-60), pitching six scoreless innings. He helped Portland to five hits, struck out three and walked three.

The Sea Dogs (45-73) had their best scoring opportunity in the first when they loaded the bases. Ryan Court popped out to second to end the threat.

Smith put Akron up 2-0 in the fourth inning with a two-run homer.

Rodriguez made it 3-0 in the sixth with a solo homer.

Portland’s Aneury Tavarez went 1 for 3, extending his on-base streak to 17 games.

]]> 0 Sun, 14 Aug 2016 23:07:08 +0000
Sea Dogs rained out; doubleheader scheduled Sunday Sun, 14 Aug 2016 01:27:09 +0000 Akron, Ohio — The Eastern League game between the Portland Sea Dogs and Akron RubberDucks scheduled for Saturday night at Canal Park was postponed because of rain.

The teams will wrap up the three-game series with a doubleheader Sunday beginning at 1:05 p.m.

The RubberDucks (59-60) won the series opener 18-2 on Friday night behind six RBI from Todd Hankins, including two homers, and five RBI from Nellie Rodriguez.

Mitch Atkins has been named the starter for the opener for the Sea Dogs (45-72) after Saturday’s scheduled starter, Keith Couch, was put on the disabled list.

Atkins (3-6, 4.99) faces Akron’s Nick Pasquale (1-6, 5.10). Teddy Stankiewicz (4-7, 5.02) goes for the Sea Dogs against D.J. Brown (6-6, 4.42) in the second game.

The Sea Dogs activated pitcher Mike McCarthy to take Couch’s spot on the roster.

Portland returns home for a five-game series in three days against the Altoona Curve from Tuesday through Thursday.

]]> 0 Sat, 13 Aug 2016 21:35:31 +0000
Portland pitchers take a pounding Sat, 13 Aug 2016 03:16:23 +0000 AKRON, OHIO — Every member of the RubberDucks had a hit and scored at least one run and Akron pounded the Portland Sea Dogs 18-2 on Friday night at Canal Park.

Arkon piled up 20 hits, the most surrended by Portland this season. No. 9 hitter Todd Hankins led the way, going 4 for 5 with a pair of home runs, including a grand slam in the fourth inning. He finished with six RBI.

Eric Stamets added three hits for Akron (59-60) and scored four times. Joe Sever and Jordan Smith each added three hits.

Cody Decker hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning for Portland (45-72). It was the third home run of the road trip for Decker, who has homered in four of his last six games.

Yoan Moncada made his first start at third base for Portland.

Mauricio Dubon extended his hitting streak to six games with a single in the third inning.

Rob Kaminsky beat Portland for the second straight start, allowed two runs on seven hits, while striking out five and walking two in six innings of work.

Jacob Dahlstrand took the loss for Portland.

]]> 0 Fri, 12 Aug 2016 23:29:22 +0000
Bullpen fails as Sea Dogs come up short Fri, 12 Aug 2016 02:39:27 +0000 ERIE, Pa. — Erie scored three runs on five consecutive singles with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally for a 5-2 win over the Portland Sea Dogs in the rubber game of their three-game series at Jerry Uht Park on Thursday night.

Portland (45-71) jumped to an early lead when Mauricio Dubon homered to left field with one out in the top of the first inning.

Dubon went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to six games. He has collected at least one hit in 26 of his last 29 games

The SeaWolves (48-69) came back to tie the game on a homer by Wynton Bernard with two outs in the third inning.

The Sea Dogs regained the lead on a leadoff homer by Yoan Moncada in the sixth inning, his ninth as a member of the Sea Dogs. Moncada was playing for the first time since suffering an ankle injury Aug. 5.

In the bottom of the seventh, Gustavo Nunez, Anthony Gose and Christin Stewart hit consecutive RBI singles off Portland reliever Williams Jerez to give the SeaWolves a 4-2 lead.

Nate Freiman had a pair of singles for the Sea Dogs, and Cody Decker and Jake Romanski each had one single.

Portland starter Kevin McAvoy struck out six and walked one while giving up one run and scattering eight hits over six innings.

]]> 0 Thu, 11 Aug 2016 22:53:10 +0000
Sea Dogs breeze past Erie, 16-1 Thu, 11 Aug 2016 03:02:29 +0000 ERIE, Pa. — Aneury Tavarez went 4 for 4 with a pair of walks as the Portland Sea Dogs cranked out a season-high 22 hits in a 16-1 win over the Erie SeaWolves at Jerry Uht Park.

The 22 hits fell one short of a team record.

Tavarez, who finished a home run short of hitting for the cycle, ended the night with an Eastern League-leading .338 batting average. His triple in the third inning was his 11th of the year, setting a franchise record.

The Sea Dogs (45-70) scored single runs in the first and second, then took control with six runs in the third inning, including a two-run homer by Cody Decker – his first of two in the game – and a two-run homer by Tzu-Wei Lin.

Portland scored in each of the first six innings and had five home runs.

Jake Romanski of the Sea Dogs was 4 for 5, including a home run and two doubles with two RBI, and Ryan Court went 2 for 6 with a homer and drove in a game-high five runs.

Jalen Beeks, the Portland starter, picked up his fourth win, going six scoreless innings, striking out five and walking three.

]]> 0 Wed, 10 Aug 2016 23:07:59 +0000
Red Sox Farm Report: Aneury Tavarez’s potential finally blooms Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The top prospects coming out of the Dominican Republic turn pro when they’re 16 and receive signing bonuses in the six- or seven-figure range.

Aneury Tavarez, from Barrio Obrero in the Dominican Republic, did not sign with the Red Sox until he was 18, in October 2010. He received a nice bonus ($80,000), but nothing close to the big-name prospects.

His first five seasons in the minors were unremarkable – a combined .254 average with 432 strikeouts and just 85 walks. Much of Tavarez’s fifth season, last year, was spent in Portland, where he hit .226 with a .616 OPS.

None of this explains what Tavarez is doing in 2016. He leads the Eastern League in batting (.330). His OPS is up to .873. He is no longer striking out 27 percent of the time, but rather just 16 percent.

You won’t find him on any top prospect list but Tavarez, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound outfielder, is putting up some of the best numbers in the Red Sox minor league system.

“I just go out and try to enjoy the game,” Tavarez said through interpreter and teammate Mauricio Dubon. “I made just a little adjustment with my hands. I raised them a little bit, and that helps me get the bat quicker to the ball.

“Thank God everything is working out so far.”

As late as May 5 this year it was not working out. Tavarez was hitting .219 with a .534 OPS and was fighting for playing time.

He got hot in June, with a .413 average. He hit .341 in July, and he’s 12 for 25 in August.

“Just a consistent approach and discipline,” Portland batting coach Jon Nunnally said of Tavarez’s improvement. “He makes good, consistent contact and makes the most of his speed. He can blast one into the gap, and runs into a homer here and there.”

Tavarez homered twice Sunday, giving him a total of five. He also beat out an infield single. But even with Andrew Benintendi promoted to Boston and Yoan Moncada out of the lineup with a sprained ankle, Tavarez is still flying under the radar.

“He is quietly having an unbelievable year,” Manager Carlos Febles said. “Something he is doing more often is putting the ball in play. He doesn’t swing and miss as he did early on.”

Tavarez is eligible for the Rule 5 draft after this season. He will become a minor league free agent after 2017.

If Tavarez has a 2017 season like 2016, the Red Sox will not let him get away.

IN PAWTUCKET, left-hander Brian Johnson continues his comeback. Johnson struggled early this year and then took time off to deal with anxiety issues. He began rehab games last month in the rookie leagues. Now back in Triple-A, he has shined in his last two starts (12 innings, seven hits, one earned run, three walks, 11 strikeouts). It will be interesting to see if he gets a shot with Boston this year.

Do you know which Pawtucket starter leads the team in ERA (3.18) and WHIP (1.15)? Answer: Justin Haley, the right-hander who slumped last year in Portland before rebounding this season. Haley posted a 2.20 ERA in 12 starts for the Sea Dogs, then was promoted to Triple-A on June 18 and is 6-3 in 10 games for Pawtucket. Now 25, he’s Rule 5 eligible after this season.

Left-handed reliever Robby Scott is also Rule 5 eligible. He should be inviting for some team if Boston does not put him on the 40-man roster. Scott, 27, has a 2.57 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, with 63 strikeouts and 12 walks in 66 innings. Lefties are hitting .165 against him, right-handers are hitting .227.

IN PORTLAND, Dubon continues to excel with a .305 average and a career-high .803 OPS. Dubon, 6-foot and up to 170 pounds, is showing more power to the gaps – and the left-field wall – with 13 doubles, four triples and a homer in 38 games.

Right-hander Ben Taylor, who was moved to the bullpen early this season in Class A Salem, is looking fine as a Double-A reliever: 0.85 WHIP with 33 strikeouts and just seven walks in 24 innings.

IN SALEM, third baseman Rafael Devers may earn a late-season promotion to Portland if he keeps up his pace. Devers, 19, had a slow start this year, but he’s batting .341 with a .920 OPS since May. In his last two games, he’s 6 for 11 with two doubles and a triple.

Outfielder Danny Mars, 22, is coming on in the second half. Since June, he’s batting .367 with a .933 OPS.

Right-hander Michael Kopech, Boston’s top pitching prospect, has made seven starts for Salem: 1.08 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 53 strikeouts and 24 walks in 372/3 innings. Pencil him into the Sea Dogs’ rotation next April.

IN GREENVILLE, infielder Michael Chavis, a first-round pick in 2014, has not been the same since his torrid 15 games in April (.356, four doubles and three homers). Chavis, 20, strained a ligament in his thumb, spent time on the DL and has struggled since returning in June. In his 47 games since coming back, Chavis is batting .229 with five doubles, one triple and four homer.

IN LOWELL, third baseman Bobby Dalbec, a fourth-round pick out of Arizona two months ago, is batting .317 with a .952 OPS in 11 games.

NOTES: Former Red Sox pitching prospect and Sea Dogs reliever Madison Younginer signed a minor league deal with Atlanta after last year. He was called up Sunday and made his ML debut against St. Louis, giving up three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning. … Chris Smith, 35, who pitched parts of four seasons with the Sea Dogs (2004-07), made it back to the big leagues Sunday for the first time since 2010. He relieved for one inning with Oakland (one hit, one strikeout). He made 12 appearances with Boston in 2008, then pitched the next two seasons for Milwaukee. Then he was in three organizations as well as the independent leagues.


]]> 0, 09 Aug 2016 08:42:43 +0000
Tavarez provides pop for Sea Dogs Mon, 08 Aug 2016 00:34:48 +0000 Aneury Tavarez and Danny Bethea each knocked in two runs and Keith Couch pitched six strong innings as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the Akron RubberDucks 5-3 Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field.

Tavarez hit home runs in his first two at-bats, helping Portland to a 3-0 lead. Coming into the game, Tavarez had only three home runs this season.

“I had a good breakfast,” he joked, through interpreter and teammate Mauricio Dubon. Tavarez also had an infield single, going 3 for 4. He continues to lead the Eastern League in batting with a .330 average.

“He can drive the ball and he has speed to get on base,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said.

Tim Roberson also went 3 for 4 and scored twice, drive home both times by Bethea.

In the sixth inning, Bethea broke a 3-3 tie with a sacrifice fly. Bethea added an RBI double in the eighth.

The Sea Dogs improved to 44-69, while Akron dropped to 56-59.

Portland took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After Tavarez’s home run to right field, Dubon doubled and eventually scored on a groundout.

Couch (8-4) retired 11 of the first 13 batters and did not allow an earned run. Akron loaded the bases on a single, an error and a hit batter in the fifth. Luigi Rodriguez’s two-out, three-run double tied the game.

Portland got scoreless relief from Williams Jerez (one inning, one hit) and Ben Taylor (two innings, one walk).

NOTES: Top prospect Yoan Moncada sat out his second straight game since spraining his ankle Friday night while sliding into third base. Febles said Moncada’s ankle has improved and that he is “day to day.” … The announced paid attendance was a second straight sellout of 7,368. … The Sea Dogs left after the game for a week-long road trip to Erie, Pennsylvania, and Akron, Ohio. … The Sea Dogs return to Hadlock on Aug. 16 for a three-day, five-game series against Altoona, with doubleheaders on Aug. 16 and 17. …

In Pawtucket, former Sea Dogs starter Justin Haley pitched a seven-inning shutout in the first game of a doubleheader. He allowed five hits and one walk, striking out four. … Two former Sea Dogs pitchers were called up to the big leagues Sunday. Chris Smith was summoned to Oakland, and the Atlanta Braves promoted Madison Younginer for their bullpen. Younginer got into Sunday’s game for his major-league debut, allowing two hits in two-thirds of an inning. …

Before Sunday’s game, fans were allowed to play catch in the outfield. One elderly fan had no one to throw to, but was soon playing catch with Sea Dogs pitcher Mike McCarthy. … Sunday was not a complete loss for the Akron players. After the game, they enjoyed a lobster dinner before boarding their bus.


]]> 0, 07 Aug 2016 21:38:00 +0000
Tavarez homers lead Sea Dogs past Akron, 5-3 Sun, 07 Aug 2016 19:52:37 +0000 Aneury Tavarez hit two home runs and starter Keith Couch pitched six strong innings as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the Akron Rubber Ducks 5-3 Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field.

Danny Bethea broke a 3-3 tie with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. Bethea doubled in another run in the eighth.

The Sea Dogs improved to 44-69, while Akron dropped to 56-59.

Tavarez, who leads the Eastern League in batting with a .330 average, went 3-for-4 Sunday. He led off the bottom of the first with a home run to right field. He repeated the feat when he led off the third.

Mauricio Dubon, who was 2-for-4, doubled in the first and scored on a ground out.

Couch (8-4) retired 11 of the first 13 batters and did not allow an earned run. Akron loaded the bases on a single, error and hit-batter in the fifth. Luigi Rodriguez’s two-out, three-run double tied the game.

In the sixth, Tim Roberson single and went to third on Rainel Rosario’s double. Roberson scored on Bethea’s fly ball.

Roberson, who was 3-for-4, singled in the eighth and eventually scored on Bethea’s line drive to right center.

The Sea Dogs will be on the road the rest of the week. They return to Hadlock on Aug. 16.

]]> 0 Sun, 07 Aug 2016 16:54:55 +0000
Tavarez, Dubon spark Sea Dogs Sun, 07 Aug 2016 01:00:47 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs got solid pitching and timely hitting Saturday night to snap a two-game losing streak with a 9-4 victory against the Akron RubberDucks before a sellout crowd of 7,368 at Hadlock Field.

Jacob Dahlstrand, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, held the RubberDucks in check for five innings and the Sea Dogs scored four runs in both the second and fourth innings to run their record to 3-2 on a six-game homestand.

“The offense did a good job tonight,” said Manager Carlos Febles of the Sea Dogs, who totaled 15 hits. “We had an explosive night at the plate to give our pitchers some room.”

Dahlstrand was nearly unhittable after getting roughed up in the first inning. Akron opened the scoring when Greg Allen led off the game with a bloop double down the left-field line and scored when Luigi Rodriguez lined a single up the middle. Jordan Smith and Nellie Rodriguez walked before Dahlstrand got out of the inning.

“He got into a rhythm,” Febles said. “He took a step back (in the first) and regrouped, and he was pretty good the rest of the way.”

Dahlstrand (2-1) retired 14 of the last 17 batters to face him, allowing one more hit.

“He can pitch five innings or 85 pitches, whatever comes first,” Febles said. Dahlstrand threw 73 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Reliever Taylor Grover retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh before running into trouble in the eighth. Ty Buttrey induced Todd Hankins to hit into an inning-ending double play in the eighth, then struck out the side in the ninth.

Portland took a 4-1 lead in the second. Nate Freiman and Cody Decker opened with singles. After both moved up on a wild pitch, Freiman made it 1-1 when Cole Sturgeon grounded to shortstop and Decker scored on Rainel Rosario’s infield hit. After Tzu-Wei Lin’s hit-and-run single put runners at the corners, Aneury Taverez pulled a triple into the gap in right.

Portland made it 8-1 in the fourth, loading the bases when Jake Romanski and Rosario opened with singles and Lin walked. With one out, Mauricio Dubon doubled to the base of the wall in center to clear the bases. After Ryan Court reached on an error, Dubon scored the fourth run of the inning on a wild pitch.

Decker led off the bottom of the seventh with his eighth home run of the season, a 361-foot opposite-field shot into the pavilion in right to make it 9-1.

Jordan Smith hit a three-run homer in the eighth to cut into Portland’s lead.

NOTES: Portland second baseman Yoan Moncado, who injured his left ankle while sliding into third Friday night, sat out. Lin, who started at third on Friday night, took his place at second. … Akron leftfielder Mike Papi had to leave the game in the third inning after Luigi Rodriguez lined a foul ball into the RubberDucks’ dugout and it hit him. … It was the ninth sellout of the season for the Sea Dogs at Hadlock.

]]> 0 Sat, 06 Aug 2016 22:30:51 +0000
Defensive miscues costly for Sea Dogs in loss Sun, 07 Aug 2016 00:21:17 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs made five errors for the third time this season, helping the Akron RubberDucks snap a six-game losing streak with an 8-2 win Friday night before a crowd of 5,923 at Hadlock Field.

“This is the type of game maybe you see once or twice a year,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said. “We’ve been playing solid defense until tonight, and I won’t worry about it much. We’ll put this one behind us and get ready for the next one.”

The RubberDucks took a 2-0 lead in the fourth.

After Nellie Rodriguez and Luigi Rodriguez opened the inning with back-to-back singles, Eric Haase drilled a one-out double into the gap in left to make it 1-0.

The second run scored when Yoan Moncada made the second of his three errors, misplaying Lendy Castillo’s groundball to second.

Akron added five runs in the sixth. With one out, Haase drove a home run over the left-field wall. The RubberDucks then parlayed three errors, a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by Nellie Rodriquez and singles by Castillo and Jeremy Lucas into four unearned runs.

Akron starter Rob Kaminsky (6-7), a left-hander, limited the Sea Dogs to three hits in five innings, retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.

The Sea Dogs scored their runs in the sixth off reliever Robbie Aviles. They loaded the bases on a walk and singles by Ryan Court and Nate Freiman. The runs scored on an error and a double play.

Akron added a run when Jordan Smith led off the ninth with a double, moved to third on Nellie Rodriguez’s third single of the game and scored on Luigi Rodriguez’s second single.

The lopsided loss ended Portland starter Kevin McAvoy’s string of success at Hadlock. Coming into Friday’s game, he was 4-0 in his last five starts at home. He was charged with six runs, but only two were earned.

“He pitched well,” Febles said. “He induced a lot of groundballs, and the infield defense let him down.”

McAvoy (7-7) pitched out of a nobody-out, bases-loaded jam in the second. After Nellie Rodriguez reached when his pop-up fell in between first base and the mound for a hit, Luigi Rodriguez reached on an error and Joe Sever walked. But Nellie Rodriguez was forced out at the plate when Haase grounded to third, and the Sea Dogs turned a double play to end the inning.

McAvoy avoided trouble in the third when he picked Greg Allen off first base after a one-out single. Jeremy Lucas followed with a double off the wall in left but was stranded at second.

“He didn’t back down at any time,” Febles said. “Every time he got into trouble or the infield got him into trouble, he made pitches to get out of it.”

NOTES: Moncada left the game in the seventh after injuring his left ankle while sliding into third on an attempted steal. “It’s a mild strain,” Febles said. “He’ll be fine in a couple of days.”

]]> 0 Sat, 06 Aug 2016 20:21:17 +0000
Five errors sink Sea Dogs against Ducks, 8-2 Sat, 06 Aug 2016 01:09:27 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs made five errors for the third time this season, helping the Akron RubberDucks snap a six-game losing streak with an 8-2 win Friday night before a crowd of 5,923 at Hadlock Field.

“This is the type of game maybe you see once or twice a year,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said. “We’ve been playing solid defense until tonight, and I won’t worry about it much. We’ll put this one behind us and get ready for the next one.”

The RubberDucks took a 2-0 lead in the fourth.

After Nellie Rodriguez and Luigi Rodriguez opened the inning with back-to-back singles, Eric Haase drilled a one-out double into the gap in left to make it 1-0.

The second run scored when Yoan Moncada made the second of his three errors, misplaying Lendy Castillo’s groundball to second.

Akron added five runs in the sixth. With one out, Haase drove a home run over the left-field wall. The RubberDucks then parlayed three errors, a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by Nellie Rodriquez and singles by Castillo and Jeremy Lucas into four unearned runs.

Akron starter Rob Kaminsky (6-7), a left-hander, limited the Sea Dogs to three hits during his five innings on the mound, retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.

The Sea Dogs scored their runs in the sixth off reliever Robbie Aviles. They loaded the bases on a walk and singles by Ryan Court and Nate Freiman. The runs scored on an error and a double play.

Akron added a run when Jordan Smith led off the ninth with a double, moved to third on Nellie Rodriguez’s third single of the game and scored on Luigi Rodriguez’s second single.

The lopsided loss ended Portland starter Kevin McAvoy’s string of success at Hadlock. Coming into Friday’s game, he was 4-0 in his last five starts at home. He was charged with six runs, but only two were earned.

“He pitched well,” Febles said. “He induced a lot of groundballs, and the infield defense let him down.”

McAvoy (7-7) pitched out of a nobody-out, bases-loaded jam in the second. After Nellie Rodriguez reached when his pop-up fell in between first base and the mound for a hit, Luigi Rodriguez reached on an error and Joe Sever walked. But Nellie Rodriguez was forced out at the plate when Haase grounded to third, and the Sea Dogs turned a double play to end the inning.

McAvoy avoided trouble in the third when he picked Greg Allen off first base after a one-out single. Jeremy Lucas followed with a double off the wall in left but was stranded at second.

“He didn’t back down at any time,” Febles said. “Every time he got into trouble or the infield got him into trouble, he made pitches to get out of it.”

NOTES: Moncada left the game in the seventh after injuring his left ankle while sliding into third on an attempted steal. “It’s a mild strain,” Febles said. “He’ll be fine in a couple of days.” … Friday’s game was the first meeting of the season between Akron and Portland. After this weekend’s three-game series, the two teams will play a three-game series next weekend at Canal Park in Akron, Ohio.

]]> 0 Fri, 05 Aug 2016 22:36:05 +0000
Sea Dogs unable to complete sweep Thu, 04 Aug 2016 18:58:59 +0000 With Boston Red Sox General Manager Mike Hazen watching from the box seats Thursday afternoon, the Portland Sea Dogs’ pitching faltered and their hits were not timely in a 9-3 loss to the Erie SeaWolves at Hadlock Field.

Portland got solo home runs from Danny Bethea and Cole Sturgeon. The Sea Dogs’ other run came in the fourth when Cody Decker tripled and scored on Rainel Rosario’s groundout.

Top prospect Yoan Moncada returned to second base after sitting out the previous two games. He went 1 for 5.

Moncada, 21, was obviously atop Hazen’s list of players to watch. Moncada singled once as his average dropped to .286 (.911 OPS).

Moncada, a switch-hitter, faced a left-handed pitcher only once Thursday and struck out on three pitches (two fouls and a swing and miss on a high fastball outside the strike zone). In his 23 plate appearances against lefties, Moncada has only three hits and three walks. He’s struck out 13 times.

“We’re not really concerned with him,” Hazen said. “He’s going to face the majority of his at-bats in the big leagues versus right-handed pitchers.

“It’s the challenge of any switch-hitter. They have to be able to get their work in on both sides. There is really no way to recreate that. He may get some more at-bats in the winter time, somewhere.”

Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said “it’s been hard for him to get a rhythm on the right side … hopefully he’ll get more action there.”

When the Akron RubberDucks arrive for a three-game series this weekend, lefty Rob Kaminsky will start Friday. But he’s the only left-hander on Akron’s roster.

The other question concerning Moncada is the ever-present inquiry about changing positions. He has been taking ground balls at third base in pregame workouts, but there is no announced timetable for when he will play there in a game.

“We’re starting to get him comfortable there,” Hazen said. “I’m sure at some point we’ll start exposing him to game activity.”

While Moncada has expressed no doubts about moving to third – a position he played for two years in Cuba – Febles said it is not an automatic switch. Febles, once a second baseman for the Royals, played some shortstop for Kansas City, but never third base.

“Everything is faster (at third). It’s tougher to get a read off the bat,” Febles said. “It is a reaction position. You have to be able to get a good read off the bat and react.

“He’s been taking some balls there … Let’s see where we are two weeks from now. If we feel like he’s ready to play there, I believe we’ll play him.”

In Thursday’s game, Erie’s Anthony Gose led off with a home run. Jason Krizan also homered in the first inning off Sea Dogs starter Mitch Atkins (3-6).

Atkins lasted five innings (six hits, five runs) and Jake Drehoff (two innings, three runs) and Ty Buttrey (one inning, one run) followed.

Sturgeon, now the regular center fielder since Andrew Benintendi’s promotion to the majors, went 3 for 4 to boost his average to .283 (.729 OPS).

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 6,548. … Febles said utility infielder Tzu-Wei Lin will begin seeing playing time in the outfield. … Friday’s game is at 6 p.m. because of the rescheduled fireworks show afterward. … On Sunday, fans with tickets can play catch in the Hadlock outfield from 10 to 11:15 a.m.

]]> 0, 04 Aug 2016 18:04:51 +0000
Rosario’s grand slam powers Sea Dogs past SeaWolves Thu, 04 Aug 2016 01:45:50 +0000 For the second straight game, Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada was given a day off Wednesday.

Portland Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said Moncada is healthy – Moncada took part in batting practice and put in extra fielding practice at third and the outfield – and will be in the lineup Thursday.

So what were the Sea Dogs to do without the $63 million man? Well, for starters they won, beating the Erie SeaWolves 5-4 before 4,941 at Hadlock Field.

Portland didn’t have Moncada’s pop but Rainel Rosario filled in nicely, dropping a grand slam over the left-field wall in the fourth inning.

Moncada was not there to lead off, but Aneury Tavarez jumped in and went 3 for 5 with a run and stolen base.

Taking Moncada’s place at second base was utility infielder Tzu-Wei Lin, who made two sensational plays. With runners on second and third in the fifth, Lin raced into right field and caught a bloop just inside the foul line. In the seventh, he hustled to glove a hard grounder up the middle, turned and made a leaping throw to first for the out.

And the Sea Dogs got enough pitching. Jalen Beeks (3-2), the left-hander promoted from Salem in June, allowed four runs on eight hits and no walks in six innings, striking out six.

“Beeks got hit around a little bit but managed to give us six innings,” Febles said.

Williams Jerez pitched two scoreless innings of relief and Ben Taylor added a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts for his second save, lowering his ERA to 2.08.

Down 3-1, with the bases loaded and two outs, Rosario hit a fly ball that cleared the left-field wall.

“When I hit it I didn’t know if it would stay in or go out,” said Rosario, who hit a split-fingered fastball from David Martinez (1-2). “The first grand slam in my career and we win the game.”

Tavarez scored Portland’s first run after singling in the first, moving to third on Mauricio Dubon’s double and scoring on Nate Freiman’s sacrifice fly. Tavarez is batting .318.

“This is a guy who has been put in different spots in the lineup and is contributing in a big way,” Febles said. “Nobody talks about him but he’s been one of our most consistent hitters.”
The Sea Dogs (42-67) have won three straight. Erie is 44-66.

NOTES: Despite his work at third base, when Moncada rejoins the lineup it will be back at second. Febles said moving to third base “is a big adjustment … but I don’t think it will take a long time because (Moncada) is so athletic and he’s done it in the past.” Thursday is the last weekday matinee game of the season, starting at noon. … Friday’s game has been bumped up an hour to 6 p.m. to accommodate a rescheduled fireworks show. Sea Dogs pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz was back at Hadlock Field a day after pitching the first nine-inning, complete-game one-hitter in Sea Dogs history. Stankiewicz left right after the game because his father was hospitalized with kidney stones. Stankiewicz said that his dad is fine. As for his career-best performance, “everything worked together. I worked off all my pitches and the location was on point … I’ve been working on normal things that needed to be addressed and tweaking stuff. I’m starting to figure it out more and more every day.”

]]> 0, 03 Aug 2016 23:45:23 +0000
Stankiewicz’s one-hitter leads Sea Dogs to 3-0 win Wed, 03 Aug 2016 01:09:10 +0000 Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz allowed only one baserunner, on a sixth-inning single, to lead the Portland Sea Dogs to a 3-0 win over the Erie SeaWolves on Tuesday night before 6,189 at Hadlock Field.

The one-hit, complete-game shutout was easily the best outing for Stankiewicz (4-7), who needed only 96 pitches. He struck out a career-high seven.

Stankiewicz, who has had an up-and-down season, lowered his ERA to 4.81.

“He had unbelievable confidence in everything he threw,” catcher Jake Romanski said. “I could (call for) fastball, change-up or slider, and it would work – anything in any count. Everything was down in the zone.

“He was locating as well as I’ve seen anyone this year.”

Mauricio Dubon paced Portland with two doubles, two RBI and a run. Ryan Court also doubled in a run.

Stankiewicz retired the first 16 batters until one out in the sixth when Grayson Greiner grounded a single into center field. The Hadlock crowd responded with an ovation for Stankiewicz. He got out of the inning with two flyouts as he retired his final 11 batters.

“I’ve caught him the last three years,” Romanski said. “We knew Teddy could do that. That’s him right there. That’s Teddy.”

Stankiewicz, 22, arrived in Portland this season as Boston’s 20th-best prospect, according to Baseball America. He carried a 1.13 ERA through his first four starts – and in nine of his first 10 starts he allowed two earned runs or fewer. But he has also had some blowups (eight earned runs twice) and bouts of inconsistency.

“He’s a guy who is growing before our eyes,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said. “He started out well, hit a bump in the road and was down, and now he’s getting up.

“Seems like he has more confidence now. Tonight was an example of that. That’s what we expect out of him – maybe not always a one-hitter, but to compete every start because he has the stuff.”

Stankiewicz politely declined to comment, rushing out of the clubhouse after learning a family member was hospitalized.

NOTES: Second baseman Yoan Moncada was initially in the lineup but did not play. Febles said he planned to give Moncada day off, but mistakenly penciled him in. … Dubon’s performance boosted his batting average to .318, and OPS to .832 … Portland (41-67) and Erie (44-65) are both in last place in their respective divisions in the Eastern League … Boston Celtics small forward Jae Crowder made an appearance at Hadlock Tuesday, signing autographs.

]]> 0, 02 Aug 2016 23:13:48 +0000
Mookie Betts’ home run gives Red Sox another comeback win Tue, 02 Aug 2016 05:10:08 +0000 SEATTLE — Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was supposed to get a “soft” outing in his return from left knee surgery, according to manager John Farrell. It didn’t work out that way.

Mookie Betts homered to lead off the ninth inning, Kimbrel got his 18th save in his return from the disabled list and the Red Sox beat James Paxton and the Seattle Mariners 2-1 on Monday night.

Kimbrel made his first appearance since having surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his left knee. He allowed a walk, and Kyle Seager reached on a third-strike wild pitch, but Kimbrel got two other strikeouts to end it.

“As much as we talked before the game about Kimbrel and giving him a little breathing room, that one-run margin wasn’t a heck of a lot,” Farrell said. “He was very good. It looked like he hadn’t missed any time.”

“That’s my job,” Kimbrel said. “I like save situations. It worked out nice.”

Paxton held Boston to a run and four hits over eight innings before Betts hit his 22nd homer off closer Steve Cishek (2-6), who blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning Sunday against Chicago.

Seattle may turn over closing duties to hard-throwing rookie right-hander Edwin Diaz.

“We’ll talk about it,” Servais said. “We’ll probably take the gas off a little bit and try to get (Cishek) in some better spots, and maybe not when the game is on the line all the time, and get it back going again.”

Aaron Hill homered off Paxton in the eighth to tie the game 1-1. It was the second straight ninth-inning comeback for Boston, which beat the Angels 5-3 with five two-out runs in their final at-bat Sunday.

“You have to play 27 outs to beat us,” Betts said. “We’re starting to see that more and more now.”

Junichi Tazawa (2-1) got the win with a scoreless eighth after Eduardo Rodriguez held Seattle to a run and three hits over 6 1/3 innings.

Rodriguez held the Mariners to three baserunners in the first six innings, and only one of his first 19 outs even left the infield.

Paxton retired the first seven batters until Sandy Leon’s one-out single in the third. Hanley Ramirez singled in the fifth and Betts was the first player to reach second with a two-out double in the sixth. All failed to advance.

Dae-Ho Lee’s run-scoring double with one out in the seventh chased Rodriguez, who allowed three hits, two walks and six strikeouts. Robbie Ross Jr. took over and hit Seager with a pitch to load the bases with one out. He then struck out Franklin Gutierrez and Chris Iannetta.

Paxton had six strikeouts and no walks.


The Red Sox will promote prospect Andrew Benintendi from Double-A to the majors before Tuesday night’s game. The outfielder is one of the top prospects in baseball, hitting .312 with nine homers, 76 RBIs and 16 stolen bases this season between Class A Salem and Portland.


The Red Sox added Kimbrel off the injured list, just three weeks after his July 11 surgery. To make room, the club optioned RHP Joe Kelly to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Mariners also added a pitcher, RHP Donn Roach from Triple-A Tacoma. He is likely a temporary fix for the team’s depleted staff.


The Mariners have not announced a pitcher for Thursday’s game, and manager Scott Servais said “there’s a possibility” that lefty Ariel Miranda could pitch. Miranda was acquired from Baltimore for lefty Wade Miley on Sunday.


Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker (right foot tendinitis) had a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Monday. … SS Ketel Marte (mono), on the DL since July 20, is nearly back to his playing weight. … RHP Nick Vincent (back strain) will throw a simulated game Tuesday, with Marte facing him. If that goes well, both likely will be ready for rehab assignments.


Red Sox: LHP David Price (9-7, 4.26) has lost his past three starts, although he was beaten 2-1 Thursday by the Angels, working eight innings and allowing no runs and seven hits.

Mariners: LHP Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 4.26) was acquired in a trade with Toronto June 21.


]]> 0, 02 Aug 2016 12:26:22 +0000
Jon Nunnally helping to make Sea Dogs’ offense a hit Mon, 01 Aug 2016 23:29:26 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs limped into August with the worst record in the Eastern League (40-67) and facing imminent mathematical elimination (any combination of Portland losses and Trenton victories totaling eight) from the playoffs.

Even so, there are signs of progress at Hadlock Field. The two top prospects, center fielder Andrew Benintendi and second baseman Yoan Moncada, are thriving. Benintendi was named Eastern League Player of the Week on Monday and Moncada was named MVP of the Futures Game in July.

As a team, the Sea Dogs are the only franchise in the league with a batting average that has climbed steadily since the season began. They hit .222 in April, .254 in May, .273 in June and .281 in July.

Jon Nunnally, Portland’s first-year hitting coach, said he doesn’t pay attention to such numbers.

“It’s about getting them to understand what the approach should be of each and every individual person,” said Nunnally, 44. “The numbers part of it, I don’t worry about it, man, because those things will take care of themselves. That’s something that fluctuates all the time.”

Catcher Jake Romanski, who worked with Nunnally last season in Class A Salem (Virginia), said the hitting coach is a tireless advocate for his players.

“If you need help, he’s willing to do anything for you,” Romanski said. “He always wants to be here. He always wants to work. If some guy’s struggling and he wants to go into the cage early, Jon is like, ‘What time do you want me here?’ ”

Romanski, batting .301 and tied with Aneury Tavarez for the team lead in multiple-hit games with 24, said Nunnally’s best attribute may be his ears.

“He wants to listen to what the player wants to do,” Romanski said. “He’s not trying to teach you his way. He wants to help you learn the way that’s best for you.”

Nunnally’s way was good enough to forge a 15-year playing career that included parts of six seasons in the majors. Primarily an outfielder who also played a little second base in the low minors, Nunnally broke into the big leagues with the 1995 Kansas City Royals, and also played for the Reds, Red Sox and Mets. In the minors he also played for the Cleveland, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh organizations. He also played in Japan and Mexico.

The three hitting coaches who most influenced him are Mitchell Page, Gene Tenace and Ken Griffey Sr.

“Those three guys put together helped shape and mold my mind into what I wanted to do as a hitting coach,” Nunnally said. “I got a mechanical side. I got an approach side. I got direction. Those three guys helped me out tremendously.”

Four years after his last major league appearance as a player, Nunnally failed a drug test while playing for the Brewers’ Triple-A team in Indianapolis. The drug was reported as steroids but Nunnally said it was a diuretic to combat swelling of his hands and feet when he flew. He served a 15-game suspension at the start of the 2005 season.

The next year he found work as a hitting coach with Cleveland, the organization that originally drafted him. He moved quickly up the ladder, starting in rookie ball and reaching Triple-A by his fourth season. In 2010, he was promoted to the big leagues and lasted a year and a half before being fired in June 2011.

The Blue Jays hired Nunnally for their Triple-A club in Buffalo for 2013 and he moved to Double-A New Hampshire in 2014 before joining the Red Sox organization in 2015.

“He brings passion and energy to the field,” said Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles. “He’s willing to help these kids any time they want. He’s always available to them.”

Such varied experiences have taught Nunnally that different players require different approaches. Some learn visually. Some require a hands-on approach. Others learn best through conversation.

“The main thing is keeping it simple for everybody,” he said. “Rhythm, balance, getting a good pitch to hit and attacking the baseball. You figure out how to get as consistent as you can possibly get with that and have fun.”

He may not pay attention to the numbers but others do. Sea Dogs hitters are trending up. The arrivals of Benintendi and Moncada, both of whom started the season at Class A Salem, contribute to the improvement. Nunnally deserves some credit as well.

“You’ve got to take care of the mind and how they go about doing their job,” he said. “Hopefully, over the course of time, things get better.”

For four straight months, they have.


]]> 0, 02 Aug 2016 00:08:32 +0000
Benintendi, Moncada shine in Sea Dogs rout Sun, 31 Jul 2016 20:15:14 +0000 BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — With one game left before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada seemed to be doing the impossible Sunday – boosting their already lofty reputations.

While teams weighed the merits of exchanging likely future standouts for current established producers based on their needs and the chances of contending this season, Benintendi and Moncada have become two of the most talked about players from the first group.

Benintendi and Moncada turned a game that was uncertain to even be played on a rainy afternoon in Binghamton into a series of opportunities to show off why Baseball America lists both Portland Sea Dogs among the top 10 prospects in baseball.

When it was over, Benintendi had the best game of his two-year professional career with five RBI and four extra-base hits, while Moncada scored four times and had three hits in an 8-1 romp over the Mets.

With a pair of blasts of more than 400 feet by Benintendi and a 270-foot sprint for a triple on a ball down the right-field line by Moncada, the pair showed why they are coveted by potential trade partners of the parent Boston Red Sox, but at the same time are seen as prized possessions by the Red Sox.

“I think I’m just staying with my routine, going with the same approach and everything’s working out fine,” said Benintendi, an outfielder who has thrived during a time when it would seem easy to be distracted.

The Sea Dogs were just 14-25 and already 11 games out of first place when Benintendi arrived from Class A on May 16.

Moncada made the same move June 21, and shortstop Mauricio Dubon arrived two days later. At that point, at 26-45 and 24 games out, the fate of the Sea Dogs’ season had already been settled.

The team has become much more interesting, if not always more successful, since.

While Portland pitchers have struggled at times, the Sea Dogs have gone from batting .222 in April to .254 in May to .273 in June to completing July at .281.

The last four days of July were spent in Binghamton, where the Sea Dogs won a road series for just the second time this season and handed the Mets their worst series beating in seven years in terms of run differential.

With the top of the order thriving, the Sea Dogs scored 14 runs in the first three innings of their three wins in the series. They outscored the Mets 27-6 in the four games.

Moncada, Dubon and Benintendi, batting in the first three spots, went 9 for 14 Sunday with a walk, seven runs scored, seven RBI, three homers, two doubles and a triple.

Moncada reached to lead off the first and third and got on again with one out in the fourth. Each time he came in on home runs, 406- and 422-foot blasts to right by Benintendi sandwiched around Dubon’s homer to left.

“It seemed like every time I came up, there was someone on base, so I think maybe he was thinking about the base runners,” Benintendi said of Rainy Lara (6-8), who gave up the homers. “Obviously when a pitcher thinks about base runners instead of hitters, things seem to go the hitter’s way.”

And, the ball went a long way.

The only question was whether Benintendi’s second homer would stay fair, something that became a bit of a mystery because it was hit so high above the right-field fence as it curled around the pole before settling nearly 100 feet beyond it.

“I knew when I hit it, it was going to slice, but I thought it started fair enough that it was going to stay fair,” he said.

Benintendi finished 4 for 5, adding two doubles to his two homers. In the last 42 games, he is hitting .346 with 12 doubles, eight homers, five triples and 35 RBI.

Moncada was 3 for 4 with a walk. He is 9 for 26 during a six-game hitting streak.

“It’s nice to have him in the lineup,” Benintendi said. “He’s a table-setter and when he gets on base, he’s obviously a threat to steal.”

The Sea Dogs took leads of 2-0 in the first, 5-1 in the third and 7-1 in the fourth.

Keith Couch, who rejoined the team from Triple-A Pawtucket and got the start when Mike McCarthy returned to the disabled list, briefly struggled to hold the first lead.

Binghamton scored once and had the bases loaded before Couch (7-4) recorded an out.

But Couch got out of the inning without any more damage, aided by a line-drive double play, then allowed only four more base runners through his six innings. He struck out seven.

The Sea Dogs have Monday off before starting a homestand Tuesday.

]]> 0 Sun, 31 Jul 2016 21:33:48 +0000
Sea Dogs rout Mets Sat, 30 Jul 2016 02:22:35 +0000 BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — When the Portland Sea Dogs rolled into Binghamton for a seven-run victory Thursday night, they were just getting started.

The Sea Dogs began their trip by scoring the first 18 runs of their series with the Mets.

Binghamton eventually broke through but never threatened the Sea Dogs, who won 11-3 on Friday night.

Ryan Court had four hits and drove in four runs, and the Sea Dogs had six players with at least two hits.

Aneury Tavarez joined Court with four hits. Jake Romanski matched him in producing a three-run homer among four RBI.

Court doubled and scored the game’s first run in the second inning. His three-run homer made it 5-0 in the third.

After driving in another run with a single in the fifth, Court scored on Romanski’s three-run homer for an 11-0 lead.

Tavarez went 4 for 5 with a triple, double, two runs and an RBI. Romanski finished with two hits and a sacrifice fly. He also threw out both runners that tried to steal against him.

The Sea Dogs scored in each inning from the second through the sixth and totaled 18 hits.

Cole Sturgeon, Yoan Moncada and Nate Freiman each added two hits.

Sturgeon had a sacrifice to help manufacture the game’s first run before it became clear that one-run strategies would not matter. He also scored a run.

Freiman went 2 for 5 with a triple, two runs and an RBI. He’s hit .330 for the last 29 games to raise his average from .231 to .280. In the first two games of the series he has five hits, three for extra bases, driving in four runs.

Manager Carlos Febles said Thursday night that the 6-foot-8 Freiman has brought more than a big bat to the team since being signed out of the independent Atlantic League.

“He brings a lot to the table,” Febles said. “He brings experience. He brings leadership.

“He’s a very good player. It’s been a pleasure to have a guy who brings out that to a young team. He’s always willing to help a young guy.”

Now Freiman is helping himself, too.

After playing 116 games for the Oakland A’s in 2013-2014, Freiman spent 2015 in Triple-A. He was traded this spring, then released from Triple-A Syracuse in the first month of the season.

Freiman immediately signed on with Long Island in the Atlantic League.

“I really didn’t want to sit around and wait all season for a job to open,” Freiman said. “I went to (indepenent) ball pretty much immediately and I was extremely fortunate that the Red Sox signed me out of the Atlantic League.

“I’m extremely grateful and proud to be here.”

Freiman is batting behind highly regarded prospect Andrew Benintendi, who leads all Red Sox minor leaguers in RBI. Benintendi was 1 for 4 and drove in the team’s last run Friday.

The series continues with a 7:05 game Saturday and a 1:05 game Sunday.

]]> 0 Fri, 29 Jul 2016 23:16:34 +0000
Foulke provides relief for Sea Dogs relievers Fri, 29 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Several times this season, Portland Sea Dogs relief pitchers have gathered in their elevated bullpen beyond the right-field fence to listen to Foulke tales.

Twelve years after Keith Foulke closed out the historic 2004 World Series for the Boston Red Sox, he’s back in the organization as a player-development consultant.

“Actually I think I’m a mentor or advisor or something like that,” Foulke said. “It’s a brand-new position that’s really never been done.”

Foulke spoke from a shaded picnic table at Hadlock Field during the Sea Dogs’ series earlier this week against Trenton. During games he sits in the bullpen with Portland’s relief corps, which currently numbers seven.

“He’s a good sounding board for guys who have questions about certain situations, certain pitches, counts, how to attack hitters,” said Portland pitching coach Kevin Walker, who remains in the dugout during games. “There’s just a lot of things you can bounce off a guy who’s got a ton of experience.”

Foulke had an 11-year career in the big leagues. He began as a starter with the Giants, was involved in trades to the White Sox and A’s, became an All-Star in 2003 and signed with the Red Sox prior to 2004, when he played a pivotal role in their American League Championship Series comeback against the New York Yankees and subsequent World Series sweep of St. Louis.

Knee problems limited Foulke’s effectiveness in two more years with the Red Sox. After elbow surgery he returned to pitch for Oakland in 2008 and ended his career after a 2009 season with the independent Newark (New Jersey) Bears.

In March, he returned to the Red Sox after discussing an advisory role with the team president, Dave Dombrowski.

“He had pretty much the same idea,” Foulke said. “When you think about it, it’s the one group of players that doesn’t have a roving instructor.”

Foulke, who has three sons and makes his home in Phoenix, drops in on the two highest rungs of Boston’s minor league ladder, Portland and Pawtucket. This week’s visit to Maine was his second of July. He arrived Sunday, remained through Wednesday and plans to return in late August.

“I definitely have tried to tap into some of the knowledge he has,” said Ty Buttrey, who has nine starts and 13 relief appearances. “He’s been through it and he can help us out in so many different ways. He’ll help you with your daily routine, help you to become a better overall pitcher.”

Buttrey asked Foulke for assistance with a mechanical issue, trying to resolve Buttrey’s tendency to pull his glove toward first base instead of staying in line with the plate.

“I’ll pull off, miss my spots a little bit,” Buttrey said. “It’s affected my breaking ball a little bit.”

Buttrey has other questions.

“I always ask him, ‘how many times did you throw back-to-back days?’ ” he said. “Because in the minor leagues, relievers generally don’t throw back-to-back days.”

Indeed, Foulke pitched in 11 of Boston’s 14 postseason games in 2004, including all four against St. Louis. After falling into a 3-0 hole against the Yankees, the Red Sox leaned on Foulke for five innings and 100 pitches over three days to remain alive.

“It’s not that your arm is hurting or not, it’s just that you give the team everything you can,” Foulke told Buttrey. “You have to be ready whenever they need you. If you’re a little tight that day, then spend some extra time to get hot, to get ready, stretch your arm out a little more. Obviously there’s a difference between being a little tight and being hurt. … But as long as you’re ready to go, it’s all out.”

Foulke speaks to the group and to pitchers individually. He arrives early for batting practice and pregame work.

“Some guys, we talk a lot more mental stuff,” he said. “Some guys, we talk a lot more physical stuff. We talk about life. Sometimes you have to talk about stuff that occurs off the field to help you on the field.”

Much of the conversation involves success and failure and how to deal with each. Foulke had plenty of both.

“If I can use my failures to help them proceed smoothly in life, that’s one of my real goals,” he said. “Try to keep them from making the mistakes I made, on and off the field.”

Every Portland reliever knows how it feels to descend the bullpen stairs and jog to the mound at Hadlock. What they dream about is making a similar trip at Fenway Park.

“You’re going to go out there and you’re going to be overwhelmed; you’re going to be scared,” Foulke said. “But it will be one of the greatest things ever to happen to you.”

]]> 0, 28 Jul 2016 21:49:51 +0000
Sea Dogs storm past Mets, 7-0 Fri, 29 Jul 2016 01:44:50 +0000 BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Nate Freiman and Jalen Beeks made sure the Portland Sea Dogs got their trip off to a fast start Thursday night.

Freiman doubled twice and drove in three runs in the first three innings, and Beeks pitched five scoreless innings to lead the Sea Dogs to a 7-0 victory against the Binghamton Mets.

“It’s nice to win the first game,” said Freiman, who had hits in his first three at-bats. “I’m just trying to get good at-bats.

“We’re getting into the part of the season where you’re starting to see guys multiple times.”

The Sea Dogs had trouble with Binghamton starter Tyler Pill in the past.

Pill, who won his last five starts, was 4-0 for his career against the Sea Dogs, including a victory Saturday in Portland in his last start, which made him the winningest pitcher in team history.

The Sea Dogs put their knowledge of Pill (8-9) to immediate use Thursday.

Freiman drove in three runs and scored another as Portland opened a 4-0 lead in the third inning.

Freiman, with a career 116 major league games, has heated up recently after being released by Triple-A Syracuse, then spending time in an independent league in April and May.

Beeks (2-2) took advantage of Freiman’s fast start, going five innings and allowing two hits. He threw 57 of 90 pitches for strikes, walking two and striking out three.

“He’s been more consistent,” Manager Carlos Febles said of Beeks, who is 2-0 with a 2.52 earned-run average in his last four starts. “He’s been more aggressive. He’s always had the stuff, just sometimes he gets behind in the count and doesn’t know how to get out of it. That was not the case tonight.”

Beeks got help from Jake Drehoff, who allowed three hits in three innings, and Taylor Grover, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for Portland.

“I’ve had a lot of long innings, a lot of long counts,” said Beeks, 23, who has made just seven Double-A starts. “I’ve got to get guys out more efficiently.

“I only walked two guys so it’s not the walks. I’m not having trouble throwing strikes; I’m just having trouble putting guys away.”

Beeks has had less trouble lately. His only difficulty Thursday came when Binghamton loaded the bases in the second, in part because a batter reached on a passed ball on a strikeout.

The Sea Dogs got plenty of production from the top half of the order.

Aneury Tavarez and Mauricio Dubon started the game with back-to-back singles and came in to score. Tavarez then drove in a run when his sixth-inning chopper to first base got through for a double.

Andrew Benintendi went 2 for 4 and scored twice from the third spot in the order before being lifted for a pinch hitter.

While Benintendi was increasing his average to .325 for the past 11 games, Yoan Moncada, the Sea Dogs’ other prized prospect, had the night off.

Febles said Moncada, who is 4 for 33 (.121) with 16 strikeouts in his last eight games, will return Friday for the second game of the four-game series.

]]> 0 Thu, 28 Jul 2016 23:10:22 +0000
Thunder pound away again, beat Sea Dogs 10-6 Wed, 27 Jul 2016 19:34:17 +0000 For the second time in less than 24 hours, a lopsided Portland Sea Dogs loss hinged on an unusual fielding play.

On Tuesday night, Trenton second baseman Cito Culver caught a hard throw with his bare hand and turned a double play as the energized Thunder saw a tie game morph into an 11-run rout.

On Wednesday afternoon, Culver’s shallow fly squirted out of the glove of Portland right fielder Rainel Rosario to spark a two-run rally that gave Trenton the lead for good in what turned out to be a 10-6 series-clinching victory.

A sun-baked crowd of 7,368 – many of them youngsters clad in color-coordinated summer camp T-shirts – saw the Sea Dogs rally from four runs down to take an early 6-5 lead.

“I like the way the guys fought back after being down,” said Portland Manager Carlos Febles. “You should feel pretty good about your club.”

Six players hit safely in the five-run third inning, knocking out Trenton starter Daniel Camarena.

Andrew Benintendi stroked a two-run double. Nate Freiman followed with a double. Ryan Court singled home a run. Jake Romanski doubled to put the Sea Dogs up 6-5.

But Trenton reliever Travis Hissong (1-0) quieted the offense with an effective slider and didn’t allow another hit over the next three innings. Caleb Smith and Tyler Jones followed for another three innings of one-hit relief.

Portland starter Teddy Stankiewicz recovered from a rough third inning in which Dustin Fowler’s three-run homer capped a five-run uprising by facing just three batters in each of the other four innings he pitched.

“Performance-wise I felt really good,” Stankiewicz said. “I started off great and then in the third inning, I got a couple guys on base and threw a hanging curveball. (Fowler) hit it well and got a home run off me. After that I just battled and located well.”

The game started to unravel for Portland when Culver reached on the error to open the sixth. Dante Bichette Jr. lined reliever Ty Buttrey’s next pitch for a double in the gap between Rosario and Benintendi in center. A grounder to Court at third erased Culver on a throw home, but Trenton tied the score when Michael O’Neill grounded a single through the box that barely eluded Buttrey. The go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-6.

Trenton added another run in the seventh and two in the ninth on Culver’s second home run of the season.

“As soon as that ball was dropped, I didn’t let it bother me,” said Buttrey (0-9, 4.82). “I moved on to the next hitter. But I left the ball up and (Bichette) put a good swing on it.”

The seventh inning could have been worse. It started with a walk, a throwing error by Buttrey on a potential double- play comebacker and a single to load the bases. But on Bichette’s subsequent liner to center, Benintendi held up his glove as if to make a catch, fielded the ball on one hop and threw to second for a force.

“That was awesome,” Febles said. “They could have had bases loaded, nobody out. Now it’s first and third and we get a double play to end the inning.”

The only other Sea Dogs highlight in the late going was Court’s third hit of the game, a one-out double in the eighth.

“When things go bad, it’s easy to sit there and blame the other guys,” Buttrey said. “But the way baseball is, you can’t do that. I have to go out here and execute pitches, and I missed a lot of opportunities to do that today.”

NOTES: Trenton was 6 of 13 with runners in scoring position. … The Thunder collected 31 hits and 25 runs after dropping the rain-shortened opener at Hadlock, 5-2. “At home it’s a real tough place to hit,” Bichette said of the ballpark in New Jersey. “Big field. Wind blows in. So when we come on the road, we usually hit really well.” … The Sea Dogs left for a four-game series at Binghamton. They host Erie and Akron on Aug. 2-7. … Buttrey, who has started nine games and relieved in 13, tries to be philosophical about his 0-9 record. “It definitely bothers me,” he said. “At the same time this is the minor leagues. This is development. I never sit there and dwell on my 0-9 record. … I know next year I’m going to be way better than I am this year. As negative as it is, you have to find positive in something so bad.”

]]> 0, 27 Jul 2016 21:27:45 +0000
Trenton uses eight-run inning to crush Sea Dogs Wed, 27 Jul 2016 02:30:34 +0000 It only seemed appropriate on Harry Potter Night at Hadlock Field that a bit of wizardry overshadowed all the offensive pyrotechnics of a 15-4 victory by the Trenton Thunder over the Sea Dogs.

Forget the 27 hits and four home runs. The play of the night ended the fifth inning when Trenton second baseman Cito Culver turned a double play without using his glove.

With the score tied at 1 and a runner on first base, Thunder shortstop Tyler Wade ranged to his right to field a hard grounder in the hole. He quickly zinged a throw toward second with Culver covering.

“I went to reach for it with my glove,” said Culver, a 2010 first-round pick of the Yankees. “Well, with both hands, because I usually turn double plays with my hands together, but I kind of ran out of glove. My (right) hand was a little bit further, so it just went right into my hand.”

Potter could not have done better corralling a golden snitch.

Without hesitating, Culver relayed the baseball to first to complete the double play, then ran off the field into an electric Trenton dugout.

“I threw that hard,” Wade said. “It was a little wide. I thought he was going to take it with his glove. Then I saw him barehand it. That was an amazing play. I felt like that sparked a rally for us the next inning, gave us a little life and things went on from there.”

Portland's Nate Freiman slides into third base ahead of a tag attempt by Trenton third baseman Miguel Andujar for a triple.   John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Portland’s Nate Freiman slides into third base ahead of a tag attempt by Trenton third baseman Miguel Andujar for a triple. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

A little life? The next six Trenton batters hit safely. Culver himself delivered a two-run double to put the Thunder ahead for good 3-1 and came up again later in the inning to drive in two more runs with a single. In all, Trenton scored eight runs and sent 13 men to the plate in the sixth against Sea Dogs relievers Taylor Grover (1-3) and Williams Jerez.

“I don’t know how he caught it,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said of Culver’s wizardry. “That’s something I’ve never seen before. It was kind of fun to watch.”

The Sea Dogs had their moments. Andrew Benintendi, starting in left field for only the third time, produced two outfield assists and made a tough catch in what little foul territory there is adjacent to the visiting bullpen.

Benintendi first cut down Trenton’s Kyle Higashioka trying to stretch a leadoff single. After Mike Ford singled to center, Mark Payton hit a shallow fly in the gap. Benintendi raced over, reached across his body and gloved the ball at his shoe tops.

Looking up, Benintendi saw Ford remaining at second base, believing the ball had struck turf before leather. A long, easy throw to first base completed the double play, and brought Trenton Manager Bobby Mitchell out to argue in vain.

Benintendi also had two of Portland’s nine hits, raising his average to .281. The other top Red Sox prospect, Yoan Moncada, hit his eighth home run. Cole Sturgeon also homered for the Sea Dogs and Nate Freiman contributed a triple and a run-scoring single.

Coming off the disabled list and pitching for the first time in more than a month, Mike McCarthy started the game and delivered four scoreless innings. He faced only three batters over the minimum and had considerable help in the field.

In addition to Benintendi, catcher Danny Bethea threw out a would-be base stealer. But after Culver’s defense turned the game around, it was all Thunder.

Dante Bichette Jr. and Payton each homered. Wade, Ford and Lane Adams each had three hits as Trenton feasted on four Portland relievers for 14 of the team’s 18 hits. Portland pitchers also walked nine.

“It was definitely a lifter for us,” Culver said. “That’s all I try to do, is help my team as much as I can, make plays when I can, get hits when I can.”

So, did it sting?

Culver shook his head.

“I was pumped,” he said with a grin. “I didn’t feel anything.”

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 6,364. … To make room for McCarthy, the Sea Dogs placed right-hander Jacob Dahlstrand on the disabled list, retroactive to July 22. “He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery,” said pitching coach Kevin Walker. “It’s been a long road for him. This is a thing we do for all our starters, give them a little break during the season.”

]]> 0, 26 Jul 2016 23:50:54 +0000
Sea Dogs beat rain, Thunder Tue, 26 Jul 2016 02:07:05 +0000 If Sea Dogs second baseman Yoan Moncada was bothered by his five-strikeout performance Sunday, he certainly didn’t show it Monday at Hadlock Field.

Moncada started a nifty double play in the first inning to help Portland starter Kevin McAvoy out of a jam and then lined a 97 mph fastball into center field to snap a 1-for-20 slump and set the tone for a 5-2 Sea Dogs victory over the Trenton Thunder in an Eastern League game shortened by rain.

“I didn’t change anything,” Moncada said through interpreter/shortstop Mauricio Dubon. “A bad day is going to happen. It’s baseball. Yeah, I felt happy I got a base-hit my first time at bat, but it’s not going to be the last time I get five strikeouts.”

Rain started to fall in the top of the seventh as McAvoy (7-5) was retiring 12 of the last 14 batters he faced. The downpour became heavy and was accompanied by thunder and lightning.

After a delay of 54 minutes, and with the possibility of more rain, the umpiring crew in consultation with both managers declared the game complete.

McAvoy walked the game’s first batter and fell behind the second, Dustin Fowler, before Moncada picked off Fowler’s hard grounder and, from a considerable distance, backhanded a flip to Dubon to start the double play.

McAvoy retired the next four batters and ran into trouble only in the third, when Trenton scored both its runs with help from a walk and two singles. He didn’t allow a hit or a walk the rest of the game, and struck out four.

“I think that was huge for (McAvoy),” catcher Jake Romanski said of the early double play. “He could relax a little bit. He wasn’t so uptight. It helped him get back in the zone.”

The Sea Dogs broke through in their half of the third against Trenton starter Will Carter, who was making his Double-A debut. Cole Sturgeon led off with a walk. Rainel Rosario then beat out a chopper over the mound and Moncada was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Dubon hustled to avoid a double play, allowing Sturgeon to score.

Then Andrew Benintendi punched a humpbacked liner to center. It looked as if a charging Fowler might make the catch with a diving attempt. Instead, it bounced past him for a two-run triple.

“The ball got in on me a little bit, so obviously I didn’t square it up the best I could,” said Benintendi. “It was a tough play and he was trying to make a good play and it was just fortunate for us that it got by him.”

With the infield pulled in to prevent Benintendi from scoring, Nate Freiman’s grounder to short squirted through Trenton’s Tyler Wade to make it 4-2.

The Sea Dogs added another run in the sixth on a two-out double by Sturgeon that scored Cody Decker.

NOTES: Romanski took a foul ball off his right foot in the exact spot he was hit early in Sunday’s game. … Moncada became the fourth Sea Dog in franchise history to fan five times in one game. The other three: Sean Coyle (2014), Brandon Moss (2006) and Nate Rolison (1999). … Announced paid attendance was 4,167. … Red Sox special assistant Jason Varitek is in town working with Portland catchers through Wednesday.

]]> 0, 25 Jul 2016 23:36:22 +0000
Binghamton edges Sea Dogs, 2-1 Sun, 24 Jul 2016 19:59:32 +0000 A glorious Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field turned out to be something of a nightmare for the highest-rated prospect in minor league baseball.

Yoan Moncada, less than two weeks removed from his MVP performance at the Futures Game, struck out in all five of his plate appearances Sunday, including a game-ending whiff that sealed a 2-1 Eastern League victory for the visiting Binghamton Mets before a crowd of 5,408.

The Mets took three of four from the Sea Dogs and held Portland’s prized second baseman to one hit in 16 at-bats.

“People may look at the 0 for 5 with five punch-outs, but I really believe that this kid is going to be an offensive player with power,” Binghamton Manager Pedro Lopez said of Moncada. “He’s probably a little over his head right now and maybe we just got him at the right time, but the way he goes about his business, he’s going to be a really good player.”

Moncada went down swinging all five times, the first four while batting left-handed and the final time right-handed against Binghamton closer David Roseboom, who earned his sixth save with a hitless ninth inning that included the game’s only error. Moncada managed only three foul balls and a foul tip, and accidentally sent his bat into the stands above the Sea Dogs dugout after one missed swing.

“Change-ups,” said Binghamton starter Tyler Herron (2-1), an Eastern League veteran who has also pitched for Harrisburg and Altoona and who joined the Mets last month out of independent ball in North Dakota. “It seems like the whole series we’ve kind of been getting him with change-ups. That was the plan.”

Herron scattered six hits, struck out five and walked only one before giving way to Kevin McGowan, who allowed doubles in the seventh and eighth to Tzu-Wei Lin and Mauricio Dubon but stranded both at second base.

Dubon went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles but was thrown out trying to stretch a one-out single to left in the first inning.

“That was an aggressive play,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “I have no problem with that. It took them a good relay throw to get him out. I don’t see that as a mistake. I see a guy trying to advance an extra base.”

The Sea Dogs loaded the bases in the second and took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Rainel Rosario. Lin flew out to end the inning, stranding two runners in scoring position. Never again did the Sea Dogs advance a base runner as far as third.

“It was a great game,” Febles said. “Unfortunately, we were on the losing end. It was close. We had some good at-bats, but we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed to. As a manager, you feel pretty good about your club when you play games like this.”

Sea Dogs starter Mitch Atkins (2-5) held the Mets scoreless through four innings and escaped a second-and-third, nobody-out situation in the second inning, but Binghamton scored twice in the fifth. L.J. Mazzilli homered to left with one out. Atkins appeared to be out of the inning when, with two outs, Champ Stuart bounced one up the middle. Dubon, Portland’s shortstop, ranged in front of second base and gloved the ball but lost the handle when he reached in for the throw.

“He told me he expected me to be an easier play,” Stuart said of Dubon, “and when he looked up and saw me halfway down the line he kind of rushed it. I guess it got away from him there.”

Stuart, credited with a hit, had the conversation with Dubon after a stolen base made possible by a slide that jarred the ball loose from Moncada’s glove following a one-hop throw from catcher Jake Romanski. Amed Rosario followed with a ground-ball single to left, driving home Stuart with what turned out to be the winning run.

“You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” said Atkins, who struck out five, walked two and allowed eight hits. “I threw the ball well. My job is to keep the game close and give my team a chance to win, and I did that. Sometimes you pull it out and sometimes you don’t.”

The game marked the 236th career start for Atkins, tops among active minor league pitchers. He’s been around long enough to know something about how to handle a day like Moncada’s.

“You can learn a lot from days like that,” he said. “I think you learn more from bad days than good days.”

NOTES: Former Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon departs Monday morning after four days in town as a Red Sox roving outfielder instructor. That another top prospect, Andrew Benintendi, moved over from center field to left for two games was merely a coincidence, McMillon said.

“But one of my philosophies is that all the outfielders should be able to play all over the place,” said McMillon, who heads to Triple-A Pawtucket next before returning home to South Carolina.

The Sea Dogs open a three-game series with Trenton on Monday night. … The last Sea Dogs batter with five strikeouts in a game was Sean Coyle in 2014 against New Hampshire.

]]> 0, 24 Jul 2016 18:51:18 +0000
Sea Dogs can’t solve Mets pitcher Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:47:38 +0000 Right-hander Tyler Pill pitched six innings Saturday night and became the winningest pitcher in the history of the Binghamton Mets, recording his 24th career victory – a 7-4 win against the Portland Sea Dogs in front of a sellout crowd of 7,368 at Hadlock Field.

Pill (8-8), who allowed six hits and three runs, ran his record to 4-0 against the Sea Dogs this season.

“He mixes pitches very well,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said. “He’s not afraid to throw his secondary pitches when he’s behind in the count. He’s a pitcher who keeps you off balance through every outing … he knows how to pitch and he executes when he needs to.”

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 34 minutes because of expected heavy rain. The rain never came, but Febles said the delay was not a factor.

“After we were sitting around for two hours, we had to wait another hour and a half to start the game,” he said. “(Players) are going to have to face a lot of situations like this during a career, and you have to prepare yourself for it.”

Portland starter Jalen Beeks got off to a rocky start. His pitches were up or out of the strike zone in the first inning, and the Mets made him pay, turning three walks and three singles into a 3-0 lead as they sent nine batters to the plate.

A left-hander making his sixth Double-A start, Beeks recovered to hold the Mets scoreless for the next four innings. He wasn’t involved in the decision.

“Any time you have a pitcher who gives up three runs in the first inning and he’s able to give you five innings, you have to count that as a plus,” Febles said.

Tzu-Wei Lin led off the bottom of the third with a single, Portland’s first hit of the game, then stole second, moved to third on Ryan Court’s one-out single and came home when Andrew Benintendi grounded out to second.

Portland tied it in the sixth with a two-out, two-run rally. After Nate Freiman and Aneury Tavarez hit back-to-back singles, Tim Roberson lined a double into the left-field corner to make it 3-3.

But the Mets scored two unearned runs in the top of the seventh against Sea Dogs reliever Ty Buttrey (0-8) to regain the lead. Kyle Johnson led off with a single. With one out, Philip Evans reached on an error by third baseman Ryan Court to put runners at the corners. After a walk, Johnson scored on Dominic Smith’s fielder’s choice grounder, and Evans scored on a wild pitch.

Portland got a run back in the eighth when Court led off with a walk, took third on a single by Andrew Benintendi and scored on Freiman’s groundout. But Binghamton answered with two runs in the ninth, on two walks and Jayce Boyd’s double into the gap in right.

NOTES: For the second consecutive game, Benintendi started in left field. … Center fielder Cole Sturgeon fielded a ball off the wall in left center and threw out Maikis De La Cruz, who was trying to stretch a double into a triple to lead off the sixth. … Binghamton second baseman L.J. Mazzilli, who drove in a run with a first-inning single, is the son of former New York Mets player Lee Mazzilli.

]]> 0 Sat, 23 Jul 2016 23:38:15 +0000
Two big innings propel Sea Dogs Sat, 23 Jul 2016 01:52:42 +0000 In terms of the big picture, aka the Boston Red Sox, the big news Friday at Hadlock Field concerned Andrew Benintendi’s move from center field to left.

Benintendi’s position switch corresponds with the speculation that he could be Boston-bound before the end of the season.

But before detailing every fly ball that wound up in Benintendi’s glove, it should be noted that Benintendi also went 2 for 5 with two RBI as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the Binghamton Mets 9-3 before a crowd of 4,553.

Cole Sturgeon (2 for 4) doubled in two runs. Mauricio Dubon (2 for 5) doubled home a run, and Nate Freiman (1 for 3) had two RBI.

The offense backed starter Teddy Stankiewicz (3-7), who recorded his first win in a month, allowing three runs on five hits over six innings as he duplicated his last start.

“During the season, you’re going to have some bumps in the road,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said. “His last couple outings have been pretty good.”

Portland helped Stankiewicz with two four-run innings, the third and seventh. The third inning featured five straight hits off knuckleball pitcher Mickey Jannis (3-9). Benintendi’s two-run single to center highlighted the rally.

Benintendi’s fielding drew attention, not only in Portland but in Boston, where Red Sox Manager John Farrell discussed the move to left field in his pregame press conference.

“With Andrew going to left, we are looking down the road a little ways,” Farrell told the Boston media, as reported by Scott Lauber of

“When that day comes and he’s a left fielder here in Boston remains to be seen. The way he’s swung the bat, the way he’s advanced this year, you start to prepare for it, for that eventual day.”

The reasoning for the move is obvious, with All-Star Jackie Bradley Jr. occupying center field in Fenway.

“It was this or catcher,” Benintendi quipped after the game. “It’s just a matter of getting used to other positions.”

Binghamton tested Benintendi right away, with three of its first four batters flying out to left field. For the third catch, Benintendi had to leap at the warning track, catching the ball against the left-field wall.

“He just needs to get used to the wall,” Febles said. “He went back against it couple of times like it was nothing. He didn’t get intimidated or hesitate. He looked very comfortable.”

The other speculated position switch is Yoan Moncada moving away from second base. Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski said last week that Moncada won’t switch this year. But before Friday’s game, Moncada was taking grounders at third. Febles said it was nothing out of the routine for a minor league infielder.

“Just getting him some work at third base, just like you normally see Dubon (a shortstop) take ground balls at second base – in case he has to go there,” Febles said. “So in case (Moncada had to play third), he has some work there. … But as of now he’s playing second base.”

]]> 0, 22 Jul 2016 22:59:41 +0000
Binghamton blanks Sea Dogs, 4-0 Fri, 22 Jul 2016 01:29:21 +0000 Josh Zeid watched his share of New Haven Ravens games as a teenager in Connecticut, and remembers when the Portland Sea Dogs came to town.

On Thursday night, Zeid was facing those Portland Sea Dogs, with hopes of using the Eastern League as a springboard back to the major leagues.

He mastered the Sea Dogs, before 6,175 spectators, in a 4-0 win for the Binghamton Mets.

Zeid, 29, had moved from fan to college pitcher (Tulane) and to the pros when Philadelphia drafted him in the 10th round of the 2009 draft.

In April of 2011, Reid was at Hadlock Field, pitching for Reading in the season opener. He would face the Sea Dogs twice before being traded to Houston, where he relieved in 48 games for the Astros in 2013 and 2014.

“It’s fun being back,” Zeid said after he held Portland to four hits and two walks in eight outstanding innings on Thursday. “It’s an opportunity to pitch and work on my dream again. … It’s up to me. If I get the guys out …”

Zeid (3-3) got the Dogs out plenty of times, including seven by strikeout. He has a change-up and splitter, but he used them sparingly and threw “a whole bunch of sliders.” He never faced more than four batters in one inning.

“He’s got some good stuff,” said Portland first baseman Nate Freiman, who faced Zeid before in the minors.

Freiman got one of the hits, a single in fourth. Portland’s best chance to score came in the first when Mauricio Dubon swatted a fastball for a one-out triple off the center-field wall. But Zeid struck out Andrew Benintendi and Freiman.

Jacob Dahlstrand (1-1) took the loss in his second Double-A start, and his sixth start this year since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Dahlstrand, 24, allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks, striking out one. One of the hits was Matt Oberste’s solo home run in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Zeid was cruising. The Mets are his fifth organization. In 2014, his season was shortened by foot surgeries. Waived by Houston after the season, he pitched for the Tigers in Triple-A last year. Zeid hooked up with the Angels this year but was released in spring training.

With nowhere to go, he began the season with the new independent team, the New Britain Bees – “about 30 minutes from my house. Fortunately, the right people saw me.”

The Mets saw him and signed him last month.

NOTES: The Sea Dogs dropped to 35-62, while the Mets are 45-61. … Portland got two scoreless innings each from relievers Taylor Grover (one hit, two strikeouts) and Ben Taylor (one hit, four strikeouts). … Taylor has a 1.62 ERA in eight appearances … Former Sea Dogs pitcher Henry Owens started for Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday, allowing four runs on nine hits and three walks in 52/3 innings.

The Sea Dogs will host their third annual baseball/softball equipment drive Friday and Saturday to benefit Baseball Miracles, a non-profit group that brings baseball to economically deprived areas. Fans are asked to bring new or used equipment to the Hadlock.

]]> 0, 22 Jul 2016 18:03:12 +0000
Sea Dogs drop rubber game of series in Trenton Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:55:25 +0000 TRENTON, N.J. — The Trenton Thunder defeated the Portland Sea Dogs 7-4 in the rubber game of their three-game series at Arm & Hammer Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Portland’s Aneury Tavarez tripled to lead off the game and scored on a groundout by Mauricio Dubon to give the Sea Dogs a 1-0 lead.

But Trenton scored three runs in the third inning off Portland starter Kevin McAvoy (6-5) and added two more in the fifth on a Dustin Fowler home run.

McAvoy allowed five runs on six hits in six innings, walking none and striking out six.

First baseman Cody Decker hit a three-run homer, his seventh of the season, in the sixth inning to cut Portland’s deficit to 5-4. But the Sea Dogs could muster only one baserunner in the final three innings against Trenton’s bullpen. Decker was 2 for 4 with a double.

The Sea Dogs (35-61) return to Hadlock Field on Thursday to begin a seven-game homestand.

]]> 0 Wed, 20 Jul 2016 20:50:51 +0000
Trenton tops Sea Dogs 3-2 on eighth-inning homer Wed, 20 Jul 2016 02:36:02 +0000 TRENTON, N.J. — Kyle Higashioka lined a homer to left field with one out in the bottom of the eighth, providing the winning run during the Trenton Thunder’s 3-2 Eastern League victory over the Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday night.

Higashioka had drawn a first-inning bases-loaded walk to score Tyler Wade with the first run of the game. Mark Payton followed with a groundout to score Dustin Fowler with the second run of the inning.

Portland tied the game in the sixth off Ronald Herrera. Mauricio Dubon worked a one-out walk and scored on Andrew Benintendi’s triple to deep center. Nate Freiman tied the game with a single to left.

Sea Dogs starter Mitch Atkins gave up two runs in the first, but allowed just one hit and one walk over the next five innings while retiring the final 10 batters.

Tyler Jones (5-2) earned the win for Trenton, tossing two scoreless innings with one hit and three strikeouts.

Williams Jerez (1-5) surrendered the homer to Higashioka and took the loss.

Jonathan Holder worked a perfect ninth for his 10th save of the year.

]]> 0 Tue, 19 Jul 2016 22:42:46 +0000
Red Sox Farm Report: Moncada to stay at second base this year Tue, 19 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 For all the questions about prospect Yoan Moncada changing positions this season, Boston Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski has an answer.

Moncada is not moving.

“There are no immediate plans,” Dombrowski said last weekend while watching the Sea Dogs play at Hadlock Field. “Moncada is basically going to play second base this year. I don’t think he will move anywhere else. He is still getting settled into professional baseball at this point.”

So Moncada will play second base for the rest of the season. The question is whether he will remain in Portland. He’s batting .329 with a 1.080 OPS in 21 games after hitting two home runs Monday.

But Moncada, a switch hitter, has still seen a small sample of left-handers (17 plate appearances, with two hits, two walks and nine strikeouts).

Moncada, 21, elevated his status a week ago when he clouted an upper-deck home run in the Futures Game.

His power seemed to be on the minds of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, who walked Moncada eight times in four games over the weekend. Fisher Cats Manager Bobby Meachem downplayed the idea.

“That wasn’t the plan,” Meachem said. “Most of our pitchers don’t give in.

“I guess he’s just selective. We don’t have a lot of hard-throwing guys. Probably easier to take pitches off our guys.”

What Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles saw was Moncada “making adjustments” to Eastern League pitching. “He’s not going outside of the (strike) zone to hit.”

While Dombrowski was watching the Sea Dogs on Sunday, the team recorded 18 hits, including a double by Andrew Benintendi, the other prized prospect in Portland.

Although Benintendi has played only center field – a position held by All-Star Jackie Bradley Jr. in Boston – Dombrowski was confident that Benintendi could seamlessly move over to a corner spot.

“Probably easier for him to drift over and play somewhere else than it would be for Moncada to change positions,” Dombrowski said. “Benintendi can practice taking fly balls in both corners.

Indeed, all of the Sea Dogs outfielders have worked out in left field during pregame drills.

IN PAWTUCKET, Henry Owens recorded his most impressive outing of the season Saturday, even if the linescore had him giving up three earned runs. Through seven innings, Owens allowed only two base runners – a walk and hit batsman.

In the eighth, Owens hit another batter. With two outs, he gave up his first hit – an infield single – and another walk. Former Sea Dogs reliever Chandler Shepherd replaced Owens and gave up a three-run double.

Forget the runs and look at Owens’ control. It was just the third start this season in which he issued fewer than three walks, and it was his longest outing.

“I wasn’t focused on the no-hitter,” Owens said on the PawSox website. “I was focused on getting ahead of guys and putting them away early, and going as deep into the game as possible.”

Joe Kelly made his first relief appearance for Pawtucket on Friday, throwing two scoreless innings (one hit, no walks, three strikeouts). It’s likely Boston will want to see Kelly settle into the relief role before calling him up.

IN PORTLAND, outfielder Cole Sturgeon, 24, has come on lately, hitting .370 in July. A 10th-round draft pick in 2010, Sturgeon is batting .281 with a .710 OPS for the season.

IN SALEM, 19-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers has sustained his hot streak for over six weeks. Since the start of June, he’s batting .346 with a .913 OPS. In his last 17 games, he has 10 doubles, four triples and a home run. Sounds like he might be playing his August baseball in Portland.

Michael Kopech allowed a run Monday night for the first time in three starts, as his ERA rose to 0.64. He has 23 strikeouts in 14 innings.

IN GREENVILLE, the Drive still have the youngest player in the South Atlantic League, even after top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza was traded to San Diego for starter Drew Pomeranz.

Roniel Raudes, 18 and two months older than Espinoza, is actually putting up slightly better numbers – 8-2, 4.32 ERA, 76 strikeouts/16 walks in 75 innings, and a 1.37 WHIP. Raudes had a 3.78 ERA until giving up eight runs in his last two outings.

Where Raudes differs from Espinoza is on the radar gun. Espinoza is in the upper 90s, while Raudes is around 89-90 mph, with a good curve and developing change-up. The test will be when he moves up and faces more developed hitters.

IN LOWELL, it may be time for outfielder Tyler Hill to move up to Greenville. Hill, 20, a 19th-round draft pick in 2014, finished last season in Lowell and is dominating in 26 games this year: batting .370 with a 1.003 OPS.

NOTES: One-time prospect Sean Coyle, who was designated for assignment last week, was claimed by the Los Angeles Angels.

]]> 0, 18 Jul 2016 23:17:42 +0000
Sports Digest: Moncada homers twice in Sea Dogs win Tue, 19 Jul 2016 03:37:20 +0000 BASEBALL

Yoan Moncada hit two home runs and the Portland Sea Dogs used a four-run sixth inning to take the lead for good against the Trenton Thunder in an 11-4 win Monday in Trenton, New Jersey.

Moncada’s first home run came in the top of the seventh, extending Portland’s lead to 7-2. He added a three-run homer in the eighth to make it 11-3.

Ryan Court broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI single in the sixth. Aneury Tavarez also singled home a run, and Jake Romanski hit a two-run single.

Tavarez went 3 for 5 with a triple and two runs scored.

Jalen Beeks picked up his first win of the season, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out four in six innings.

BABE RUTH 13-15: Jared Beckwith doubled and drove in a run to help Apple Valley beat Tri-County 5-2 in the state championship game for 13- to 15-year-olds, at Augusta.

Cody Duguay added two hits, and Brian Hewitt threw a complete game to pick up the win. Apple Valley advances to the New England regional in Lynn, Massachusetts.

AMERICAN LEGION: Tanner Laberge hit an RBI double during a five-run second inning as the Sebago Lakers beat Libby Mitchell 8-0 at Scarborough.

Laberge also tripled, and Zachary Hicks added two hits and two RBI. Roderick Maynard also had two hits and picked up the pitching win with three scoreless innings.


TOUR DE FRANCE: World champion Peter Sagan won the 16th stage in a photo finish as the race crossed into Switzerland.

Sagan, a Slovakian with the Tinkoff team, edged Alexander Kristoff of Norway at the line.

Chris Froome held on to the yellow jersey entering the second and final rest day.


EURO 2016: Interpol said a crackdown on Asian gambling dens and websites during football’s European Championship led to more than 4,100 people arrested and $13.6 million seized.

Police raided nearly 4,000 illegal dens across Asia and Europe, including in China, Singapore, France and Italy.

EUROPE: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are on the 10-player shortlist to be named Best Player in Europe for this past season.

Ronaldo is joined by Pepe, his teammate on European champion teams Portugal and Real Madrid.


NBA: The Milwaukee Bucks re-signed free-agent center Miles Plumlee to a four-year deal worth $52 million. The 6-foot-11 Plumlee averaged 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 61 games in 2015-16, his fourth season in the league and first full year in Milwaukee.


ROGERS CUP: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray withdrew from the tournament in Toronto because of fatigue.

The world No. 2 player and defending Rogers Cup champion said he needs time to rest after going deep in recent tournaments.

ATP: Serbian qualifier Nikola Cacic spoiled Aljaz Bedene’s 27th birthday at Umag, Croatia, by beating the British player 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 for his first win on the tour.

In the only other main-draw match, Leonardo Mayer of Argentina beat local wild card Nikola Mektic, 7-5, 6-2.

GENERALI OPEN: Mischa Zverev of Germany twice came back from a break down in the second set to defeat Facundo Bagnis of Argentina 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in the first round at Kitzbuehl, Austria.

]]> 0 Mon, 18 Jul 2016 23:42:35 +0000
On Baseball: Former Red Sox prospect trying to get back to majors Mon, 18 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 When Ryan Lavarnway last strapped on the catcher’s gear at Hadlock Field, it was the early part of 2011, a dizzying season for Lavarnway and the Boston Red Sox.

Lavarnway, now 28 and a catcher for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, used to be one of Boston’s top catching prospects, reaching the Sea Dogs in 2010. He began 2011 in Portland, was promoted to Triple-A in June, and then was called up to Boston on Aug. 18.

At the time, the Red Sox were in a battle with the Yankees for first place in the American League East. Lavarnway stayed up for eight days. When he packed up for a return to Pawtucket, Boston led the league with an 80-50 record.

“When I got called up in August, the feeling in the clubhouse was that we were going to go out and kick everyone’s butt every single day,” Lavarnway said.

When Lavarnway was called back to the majors on Sept. 5, he sensed something amiss. The Red Sox were tumbling, 2½ games behind New York, but seemingly safely ahead of Tampa Bay (by seven games) for the wild-card spot.

“It was a different feel when I got back,” Lavarnway said. “I don’t know what happened when I was gone. I came back – I was sitting on the bench most of that month, but it just wasn’t the same ‘we’re going to kick your butt’ attitude. It was more, ‘we should be kicking you’re butt and we hope we do.’ ”

The Red Sox finished 90-72, out of the playoffs, a game behind the Rays.

“I tried to learn as much from that experience as I could,” Lavarnway said.

The lessons were not always as painful as 2011. Two years later, Lavarnway was again Boston’s third catcher. And while he wasn’t put on the postseason roster, he traveled with the team throughout the playoffs, all the way to the clinching game in the World Series.

“That was an invaluable experience even if I didn’t play,” he said. “I did all the extra work, went to all the meetings, the scouting (reports), all the practices.

“Being with the guys on a daily basis and seeing how different guys were reacting, what I observed, and what I saw what works for guys and what didn’t.”

For all his experience, Lavarnway could not crack the Boston roster. He was called up for only nine games in 2014.

Then came the crazy month of December 2014 when Lavarnway became a member of four different organizations.

Boston put Lavarnway on waivers and the Dodgers claimed him Dec. 5.

“At first I was excited because I was with the Dodgers, which is the team I grew up watching,” said Lavarnway, a native of Burbank, California.

But the Dodgers waived him and the Cubs picked him up on Dec. 19. That relationship lasted four days. Chicago waived Lavarnway, and the Orioles claimed him Dec. 23.

“The phone just kept ringing,” he said. “It got to a point where the phone would ring and my wife would say ‘well, who are we with now?’ ”

Lavarnway played 10 games with Baltimore over two months in 2015 and then was released. The Braves signed him May 30. After two weeks in Triple-A, Lavarnway was summoned to Atlanta for the rest of the year, and he hit .227 in 27 games.

Overall, Lavarnway has a .198 average and .574 OPS in parts of five seasons in the majors.

Lavarnway began this season in Triple-A, hitting .276 with a .694 OPS, until the Braves released him May 13.

“It’s been very clear to me that what I used to think was good enough is not good enough,” Lavarnway said. “You have to be excellent and you have to dominate at this level.

“‘What have you done for me lately’ is how this game works.”

The Blue Jays signed Lavarnway and sent him to New Hampshire, his first Double-A assignment since 2011. The level did not matter to Lavarnway.

“There’s the major leagues and the minor leagues,” he said. “I’m trying to get back. I’m doing everything that I can to get myself ready.”

So far, he’s hitting .274 with a .786 OPS in 33 games, and providing experience to a young team.

“It’s been great to have somebody who has been through a lot, ups and downs,” New Hampshire Manager Bobby Meachem said. “It’s refreshing to hear a veteran say that he wants to get better – which is what we’ve been trying to tell the younger guys – it’s all about getting better.

“The first thing he says to me is ‘I just want to get better and give myself another chance to get to the big leagues.’ “

]]> 0, 18 Jul 2016 00:35:14 +0000
Fisher Cats rally sinks Sea Dogs Sun, 17 Jul 2016 20:05:54 +0000 Portland Sea Dogs right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz rebounded from a couple hiccups in the opening innings Sunday afternoon to make his best start in more than a month.

But the New Hampshire Fisher Cats rallied against the Portland bullpen, scoring two runs in the eighth to beat the Sea Dogs 5-4 at Hadlock Field.

Stankiewicz allowed three runs in the first two innings, then blanked New Hampshire for four innings after that. He struck out five and allowed five hits and one walk.

“Just shaky the first couple of innings, but he was throwing strikes,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “His tempo was kind of slow, but he picked it up after the second inning.

“Everything was smooth after that. He attacked the zone and his fastball had a little bit more life. It’s something he can build on.”

Stankiewicz began the year by allowing two or fewer earned runs in eight of his first nine starts. He has only done that one more time, on June 14, and Sunday marked his best start since then.

Austin Maddox (2-2) took the loss, giving up two runs (one earned) in the eighth. Christian Lopes singled and stole second base. With two outs, Lopes scored on Jason Leblebijian’s line-drive single to right. Leblebijian reached second base when right fielder Rainel Rosario misplayed the ball and scored the go-ahead run on Rowdy Tellez’s single to center.

Mauricio Dubon, Andrew Benintendi, Ryan Court and Cody Decker each drove in a run for Portland. Yoan Moncada was 1 for 2 with a double, two walks and two runs.

Moncada has struggled against left-handers in Double-A, but he had a double and two walks against lefty starter Shane Dawson. He struck out against right-handed reliever John Stilson (4-0).

Benintendi doubled home Moncada in the first inning. Rosario scored on Dubon’s sacrifice fly in the second inning.

In the fifth, walks by Moncada and Benintendi were followed by RBI from Court (single) and Decker (groundout), giving Portland a 4-3 lead.

But the Sea Dogs were shut down after that.

Portland dropped to 34-59. The Fisher Cats improved to 42-51.

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was a second straight sellout of 7,368. … After the second inning, Stankiewicz allowed only two base runners and picked them both off. … The Sea Dogs will play a three-game series in Trenton, New Jersey, starting Monday and then return to Hadlock Field for the start of a four-game series with Binghamton at 7 p.m. Thursday. … In Triple-A Pawtucket, former Sea Dogs all-star Marco Hernandez hit a three-run homer in a 6-0 win over Charlotte.

]]> 0 Sun, 17 Jul 2016 22:46:21 +0000
Dahlstrand wins in Sea Dogs debut Sun, 17 Jul 2016 00:51:21 +0000 Coming back from Tommy John surgery is supposed to be a grind, and right-handed pitcher Jacob Dahlstrand will assure you it is.

“I’m slowly climbing back up,” he said. “Obviously, I’m going to go through ups and downs.

Saturday night was an up. Even though Dahlstrand said he did not feel great during his Double-A debut, he allowed only three over six innings, helping the Sea Dogs to a 7-3 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock Field.

Portland’s offense supplied plenty of support with 12 hits, including three apiece from Mauricio Dubon and Cole Sturgeon and Cody Decker’s solo home run and double.

Yoan Moncada went 1 for 2 with two walks. One of Moncada’s walks came with the bases loaded, as pitchers are being careful with the hard-hitting prospect. Since the All-Star break, Moncada has walked six times in 14 plate appearances.

“He’s been able to lay off bad pitches,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “Pitchers don’t want to give in, but he’s not going out of the zone to hit.”

Dahlstrand, 24, was making his fifth start this season, his first with Portland. He allowed three runs (two earned), along with two walks and two strikeouts.

Dahlstrand, a right-hander, was a 10th-round draft pick out of high school in 2010. He moved slowly through the system, but broke through in 2014 with a combined 2.90 ERA in Greenville and Salem. In 2015, he cruised through three starts for Salem (0.95 ERA) but was injured in the fourth start.

After a long rehab, Dahlstrand returned to the mound June 25 in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He made two starts there and two in Lowell before joining the Sea Dogs.

“We’re just building him back up,” said Sea Dogs pitching coach Kevin Walker, who knows a little bit about the process, having undergone Tommy John surgery in 2001.

“This is just another step in the process.”

Using a 90-92 mph fastball, with a curve, slider and change-up, Dahlstrand needed only 77 pitches (46 strikes). He gave up a first-inning single, then picked off the runner. In the fifth, he issued a walk, and Derrick Loveless followed with a two-run homer to right-center. An error led to a run on a sacrifice fly.

“I didn’t have my best stuff, but I pitched through it,” Dahlstrand said.

Reliever Williams Jerez threw two hitless innings and Luis Ysla pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

NOTES: Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski was in attendance, watching from the box seats behind home plate. … The announced attendance was a sellout of 7,368. … The Sea Dogs wore light blue jerseys with a cartoon figure of Slugger the mascot on the front. After the game, the jerseys were raffled off to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. … Decker’s homer was his sixth in 25 games with the Sea Dogs. He’s tied for second on the team with Benintendi. Nate Freiman has eight homers. … In Triple-A Pawtucket, former Sea Dogs lefty Henry Owens took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up an infield single with two outs. Owens walked two and hit two.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

]]> 0 Sat, 16 Jul 2016 21:49:22 +0000
On Baseball: Making the jump to Fenway? Sat, 16 Jul 2016 23:15:00 +0000 With his speed he could chase down balls in the outfield gaps, and he featured a quick left-handed bat. Boston wanted that talent and promoted him straight from Portland to the big leagues.

That was Josh Reddick in 2009, the last Red Sox everyday minor leaguer to jump from Double-A to the majors.

Since the Sea Dogs became Boston’s Double-A affiliate in 2003, only two everyday players have done it – Reddick and Hanley Ramirez in 2005.

There could be a third, if the Red Sox president, Dave Dombrowski, sees a need to bring up speedy Sea Dogs center fielder Andrew Benintendi, and his quick left-handed swing.

“He’s played very well but I won’t get into individual cases,” Dombrowski said last week. “But I’ve never felt Triple-A was a necessity for players to jump … If you do well in Double-A, against that type of competition, you show that you can perform.

“We have young kids coming. Benintendi’s coming – I don’t know if it’s this year or next year.”

There is some speculation that Portland second baseman Yoan Moncada could get a call to Boston – but that rumor isn’t coming from Dombrowski, but more likely from the hype Moncada generated over his signing bonus and recent MVP performance in the Major League Baseball Futures Game in San Diego last Sunday.

When Reddick was promoted, Boston was trying to piece together a contending team. He batted .169 in 27 games, spread over the rest of the season, and wasn’t on the postseason roster. Boston was a wild card and lost in the first round.

Reddick eventually spent the rest of his Red Sox career bouncing between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket before being traded to Oakland after the 2011 season.

Ramirez was different. He got a quick two-game September call-up after Portland was eliminated from the 2005 playoffs. He was traded after the season and became the Marlins’ starting shortstop in 2006. Ramirez never has played in Triple-A.

Ramirez may have been the most publicized Red Sox prospect to come to Portland until Moncada showed up. Moncada, 21, the muscular player that Boston paid $63 million to sign, hit a nationally televised home run to the upper deck of Petco Park in San Diego last week in the Futures game, adding more hype to his name.

But while Moncada has the obvious strength – and may be a true five-tool player someday – Benintendi, 22, is more of a well-rounded player right now, with a more polished glove and approach at the plate.

But could Benintendi jump to Fenway this year?

“I don’t see why not,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “I’ve seen guys go from Double-A to the big leagues … including myself.”

Indeed, Febles was a 22-year-old Double-A infielder in Wichita, Kansas, when the Kansas City Royals called him up in September 1998. Febles was in his third full year as a pro.

“The difference between (Benintendi) and me is that this is only his first full year in professional baseball,” Febles said. “That being said, the guy’s got the tools and something he will never struggle with – speed. He has a nice swing.

“What’s he going to do at the plate (in the majors)? I don’t know. When you put him in the outfield, you don’t lose anything.”

The promising part about Benintendi’s game is he can figure things out. After being promoted from advanced Class A Salem, he began slowly in Portland.

“I ended in Salem in a little bit of a skid and then brought it here,” Benintendi said. “And obviously the competition here is better. Just had to work through that and try to learn things; hopefully taking the stuff I learned and putting it to work.”

Through June 9, Benintendi was hitting .204 in 20 games with four doubles, one triple and no home runs.

Since then Benintendi is batting .353 in 28 games, with nine doubles, two triples and seven home runs.

“Just getting to know the league a little bit,” Sea Dogs hitting coach Jon Nunnally said. “He’s a pretty smart kid.

“He can use the whole field well. He’s starting to use the middle of the field and left- center more. Everyone knows he can pull a baseball like no other.”

According to the spray charts on, Benintendi hits singles to all fields, with his power – home runs and triples – mostly coming in right and right-center.

Benintendi could run forever on the bases with a line drive into Fenway Park’s right-field corner. Will he get a chance this year?

“It’s obviously the goal,” Benintendi said. “It’s always been in the back of my head to get there someday … Whether it’s this year or whenever, it’s still going to be my goal.”

While Benintendi has only played center, Febles said it wouldn’t take long for him to adjust to a corner spot, like left field – since Jackie Bradley Jr. is in center field.

But does Boston need another left-handed hitting outfielder? Brock Holt just came back from the disabled list and the Red Sox expect Blake Swihart to return from his severely sprained ankle. Not sure where Benintendi would fit in. That may depend on Swihart’s recovery.

While Benintendi has only played center, Moncada has only played second base, a position held by Dustin Pedroia in Boston.

Moncada eventually will have to switch positions – third base makes sense – but Boston is in no rush.

“He still has to work on his overall game, to be honest with you,” Febles said. “He’s a guy who is going to hit. Defensively, he needs some things cleaned up, even though he is such a great athlete.

“On the bases he gets good jumps. But he has to continue to work on them because the higher he goes (opposing teams are) going to pay more attention to the running game.

“He’s only 21 years old and he has a lot to improve.”

In other words, Moncada can sometimes dominate in the minors but because there are areas to be improved, he will be exposed at higher levels.

One of those areas is his right-handed hitting. The switch-hitting Moncada is batting .324/1.010 OPS in 17 games, but only .100/.282 right-handed with one hit and seven strikeouts in 11 plate appearances. One of the problems is facing more left-handers to get experience.

“You’ve just got to give him reps,” Nunnally said. “Hopefully he gets enough games (against lefties).”

Moncada said he isn’t thinking about the majors, even though he’s in Double-A.

“Not really,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “Even though we have two more steps (to the majors), I just trust the process – and this is a process.”

When will that process lead to Fenway? Maybe Benintendi gets a call-up this year and a chance to compete for the starting left-field job next season. Maybe Moncada gets a call-up later in 2017.

Both of their arrivals will be highly anticipated.

As Dombrowski said, “we have young kids coming.”


]]> 0 Sat, 16 Jul 2016 19:20:04 +0000
Sea Dogs beat Fisher Cats, 3-2 Sat, 16 Jul 2016 01:45:46 +0000 One starting pitcher entered the game with an ERA of 7.81.

The other’s was even higher.

So naturally, Kevin McAvoy of Portland and Conner Greene of New Hampshire hooked up in a pitchers’ duel on a warm Friday night at Hadlock Field.

It was McAvoy who came out on top with a 3-2 victory for the Sea Dogs, with defensive help from first baseman Nate Freiman and a redemptive hitting performance from Cole Sturgeon.

“My off-speed was better tonight,” said McAvoy (6-4), who departed after a one-out RBI double by Emilio Guerrero in the seventh cut Portland’s lead to one. “I was a little inconsistent with my fastball location, missing down, but I got them off balance with my off-speed, which made my fastball more effective.”

Because of tightness in his back, Freiman hadn’t played since July 5. He made an immediate impact, lofting a sacrifice fly to deep center in the first to score Yoan Moncada for a 1-0 lead, then stranding a runner at third in both the second and third innings by moving sharply to his right to snare hard-hit grounders.

“He made some really nice plays,” McAvoy said of the 6-foot-8 Freiman. “When he lays out, he covers the hole.”

Freiman also had two hits, which helped the Sea Dogs load the bases with one out in the fourth and again with none out in the sixth.

The first threat evaporated when Greene (1-2) induced Sturgeon to ground into a double play.

But the second time, Sturgeon delivered a tie-breaking two-run, two-out single to right-center to put Portland ahead 3-1.

“The first time, I was a little tentative,” Sturgeon said. “The second time, I just wanted to be aggressive and make sure I got my best swing off.”

McAvoy (six hits, two walks, one strikeout) gave way to left-handed Jake Drehoff, who prevented the inherited runner from scoring and proceeded to pitch a perfect eighth. Ben Taylor earned his first save with a flawless ninth that included two strikeouts.

“That was a great job out of our staff,” Freiman said. “Mac pitched great. Dre came in and left the tying run on base.

“We’re going to win a lot of games when our pitchers give us that kind of effort.”

Aneury Tavarez had three hits for the Sea Dogs. Ex-Sea Dog Ryan Lavarnway caught for New Hampshire and made it 1-1 in the third by grounding into a bases-loaded double play.

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 5,315. … Right-handed pitcher Keith Couch returned to Triple-A Pawtucket. After opening the season with the PawSox, Couch came down to Portland and went 6-4 with a 3.57 ERA in 11 starts that included three complete games. … Manager Carlos Febles said Jacob Dahlstrand, a 10th-round pick of the Red Sox in 2010, will make his Double-A debut Saturday night. The pitcher has been in Portland since the All-Star break ended. … Saturday’s 6 p.m. game marks the first of two Bark in the Park promotions that welcome dogs to Hadlock. The Sea Dogs also will wear special jerseys featuring mascot Slugger for an in-game raffle to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. … John O’Hurley, the actor born in Kittery who played J. Peterman on television’s “Seinfeld,” delivered a terrific rendition of “God Bless America” with an arm draped over his son, Will, who also suited up to catch O’Hurley’s first pitch.

]]> 0 Fri, 15 Jul 2016 23:53:37 +0000
Sea Dogs fall in 10 innings Fri, 15 Jul 2016 04:33:54 +0000 The New Hampshire Fisher Cats scored two unearned runs in the top of the 10th inning Thursday night to beat the Portland Sea Dogs 6-4 at Hadlock Field.

Christian Lopes singled to begin the 10th, then scored when Roeman Fields bunted and catcher Danny Bethea threw the ball into right field. Fields reached third and scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Sea Dogs, who got home runs from Tim Roberson and Cody Decker, dropped to 32-58. The Fisher Cats improved to 41-49.

Along with the extra inning, the game featured a 99-minute rain delay and ended at 12:17 a.m.

Yoan Moncada, Boston’s top prospect, went 1 for 4 with two walks and was 3 of 3 in stolen bases. Moncada’s single – a grounder into right field – was his first hit while batting right-handed for the Sea Dogs.

Andrew Benintendi was 1 for 3 with two walks and an RBI for Portland.

In the bottom of the ninth, with New Hampshire leading 4-3 – with no outs and Tzu-Wei Lin on first base after a walk – the game was delayed because of lightning and then rain.

After the delay, Moncada came up to bat. Lin reached second on a wild pitch but Moncada then walked. Mauricio Dubon reached on a bunt single to load the bases.

Benintendi tied the game with a groundout RBI to short, but both Decker and Roberson struck out.

Portland starter Mitch Atkins gave up four runs on seven hits – including Jason Leblebijian’s first-inning solo home run – over 51/3 innings.

Roberson’s fourth home run of the year came in the fourth inning and closed the score to 2-1. New Hampshire got two more in the fifth for a 4-1 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Benintendi walked with one out. Decker followed with his fifth home run.

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 6,064. … Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles was ejected in the fourth inning after arguing when Jorge Saez of New Hampshire was awarded first base when hit by a pitch while apparently swinging at the pitch. … Moncada is 7 of 7 in stolen bases. … Two former Portland pitchers faced each other in Pawtucket. Anthony Ranaudo of Charlotte threw eight innings in a 4-0 win over Pawtucket. Justin Haley allowed three runs over six innings for the PawSox.


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