PORTLAND – By the end of last season, Stephen Fife was hanging on.

Now he believes he’s ready, and then some.

“I’m excited to be back,” said Fife, 24, who will make his first start of the season today.

Last year was Fife’s first full healthy season and he pitched 136 innings. He compiled an 8-6 record with a 4.45 ERA.

At one point in mid-July, Fife was 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA. Then it seemed like he ran out of gas, as he allowed 25 runs over his next four outings (181/3 innings).

“I felt like I had a pretty solid year last year. That two-week stint was the poor part,” Fife said. “Last year was a big year for me in terms of getting my first real full season. (I’m just) looking to build on that, looking to do more of the same and obviously try not to have that big stumble.”

MAINERS IN THE MINORS is making a comeback in the Maine Sunday Telegram as we attempt to track the progress of baseball players from Maine in the minor leagues.

Seven Maine players are in the minors — catcher Ryan Baker, Portland (Yankees); pitcher Charlie Furbush, South Portland (Tigers); utilityman Ryan Flaherty, Portland (Cubs); catcher Andrew Giobbi, Portland (Mariners); pitcher Mike MacDonald, Camden (Blue Jays); pitcher Ryan Reid, Portland (Rays); and pitcher Mark Rogers, Orrs Island (Brewers).

Baker is on the disabled list for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which has four catchers.

Flaherty, an infielder since he was drafted in the first round in 2008, played left field for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies in their opener Thursday. He went 2 for 3.

Giobbi isn’t on an active roster and appears to be in extended spring training, possibly waiting for the short-season league to start in June.

Furbush is on the staff of the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.

Mike MacDonald is on the staff of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

Reid is again in the bullpen for the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits.

Rogers, who made his major league debut last year, is with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

FORMER SEA DOGS are scattered throughout the majors, on 15 teams. The Sea Dogs compiled a list of 28 players (actually listing 31 but including three — Mike Cameron, Daisuke Matsuzaka and David Ortiz — who appeared with the Sea Dogs only on rehabs.

Of the 28, 11 are on the Red Sox. How many of the 28 can you name? The answer is below.

TRIPLE-A ALSO has its share of former Sea Dogs. Obviously there are plenty on the Red Sox affiliate in Pawtucket, but others are scattered, including outfielder Bubba Bell in Columbus, Ohio (Indians), outfielder Brandon Moss in Lehigh, Pa. (Phillies), catcher Dusty Brown in Indianapolis (Pirates), and first baseman Anthony Rizzo in Tucson, Ariz. (Padres).

In Rizzo’s Triple-A debut Thursday, he went 2 for 7 with a double and four RBI.

Juan Carlos Linares tripled home both Pawtucket runs in a 2-1 season-opening victory Thursday. Jose Iglesias had two hits and Michael Bowden picked up the save.

THE YANKEES’ Double-A affiliate — the Trenton Thunder — will be in Portland for games Monday through Wednesday.

Among the top prospects on the Thunder are pitchers Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, catcher Austin Romine, outfielder Melky Mesa, second baseman Corban Joseph and pitcher Pat Venditte.

The Sea Dogs may avoid Betances, the Yankees’ No. 3 prospect, but likely will face No. 4 Banuelos, a left-hander with a 2.59 ERA in the minors.

Romine may be the Yankees’ catcher of the future, and Venditte can pitch with either arm.

THE TRIVIA ANSWER to the question about the 28 former Sea Dogs on 15 major league teams:

Braves — Alex Gonzalez (’96-97); Cubs — Ryan Dempster (’99); Reds — Edgar Renteria (’95); Indians — Justin Masterson (’07-08); Rockies — Jorge De La Rosa (’03); Tigers — Brad Penny (’99); Marlins — Hanley Ramirez (’04-05), Anibal Sanchez (’05); Royals — Matt Treanor (’01-02); Brewers — George Kottaras (’06), Mark Kotsay (’97); Yankees — A.J. Burnett (’99); Phillies — Ross Gload (’00), Wilson Valdez (’02); Rays — Kelly Shoppach (’03); Rangers — David Murphy (’05-06); Nationals — Livan Hernandez (’96).

Red Sox — Daniel Bard (’08), Josh Beckett (’01), Clay Buchholz (’07-08), Felix Doubront (’09-10), Jacoby Ellsbury (’06-07), Adrian Gonzalez (’02), Jon Lester (’05), Jed Lowrie (’07), Jonathan Papelbon (’05), Dustin Pedroia (’05) and Kevin Youkilis (’03).

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

[email protected]


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