FORT MYERS, Fla. – They talked about weather around the cage as the Portland Sea Dogs took batting practice Friday morning.

Coaches and players were not speaking of the 80 degrees and sunshine at the player development complex. They were talking about the snow that was falling on Hadlock Field in Portland.

With the season opener set for Thursday at Hadlock, players asked if the game was in jeopardy.

The game is on, according to Portland Sea Dogs media director Chris Cameron.

“We had a foot of snow in 2007 and we got the field ready in four days,” Cameron said by phone Friday afternoon. “We got less than six inches, with six days (before the opener). We should be ready to go.”

While the grounds crew will be working on the field today, Cameron said the front office staff will report to the stadium at 8 a.m., shovels in hand.

RAY CHANG won’t stay away from Hadlock Field completely this year.

Chang, 27, who played for the Sea Dogs last year, signed a minor league, free-agent contract with the Minnesota Twins. He has been assigned to the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats.

The Twins and Red Sox both train in Fort Myers and their minor league teams play each other often during spring training.

“I miss the guys over here,” Chang said this week. “It’s always good to see them.

“But I’ve got something good going on over here (with the Twins).”

Chang came up through the Padres’ system, reaching Triple-A in 2007. He then played in the Pirates’ organization before signing as a minor league free agent with Boston last year. He batted .298 for the Sea Dogs and played solid defense but was not re-signed.

The Rock Cats play their first game in Portland on April 21.

JONATHAN HEE may not be a starter for the Sea Dogs, but the utility player may become a fan favorite at Hadlock Field.

Hee, 25, is constantly smiling, joking with teammates and moving from position to position.

On Wednesday, he played second base. On Thursday, third base. On Friday, he was taking grounders at first.

“I love it,” he said. “Every day is a little different. Take ground balls at different positions. You’re always learning. It’s fun.”

And when he’s not playing, “Sometimes I catch bullpens. It’s fun.”

Hee redshirted his first year at the University of Hawaii and then played four seasons for the Rainbows. Boston drafted him in the 21st round in 2008.

Even though he is in only his fourth season with the Red Sox, Hee is one of the older players.

And he is likely the only Sea Dogs player with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology.

MATT SHEELY was chosen by the Red Sox in the 48th round of the 2005 draft, the 1,446th overall pick.

After five seasons, including a year and a half in Portland, Sheely had a career .246 average. He entered spring training as one of seven outfielders in Triple-A.

So when cuts were made Thursday morning, Sheely was not comfortable.

“It was tense,” he said. “But I’m still here, so far.”

Sheely, 25, was one of five outfielders Pawtucket will carry after Aaron Bates was released and Bubba Bell was traded.

While glad to be staying, Sheely said it was hard to say goodbye to friends who did not make the team.

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

[email protected]


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