When I booked my trip for Spring Training, I was scheduled to leave yesterday morning, but after seeing Rob Bradford on Monday, my plans changed. Rob does a terrific job on WEEI.com and filling-in on Red Sox radio broadcasters with Hall of Famer Joe Castiglione. I ran into Rob on the stairs of the pressbox at jetBlue Park, and he asked me if I was around this weekend to help work the broadcasts. My response was that I had to leave on Friday, but after talking to my GM Geoff Iacuessa, he told me to make it work. I’m so lucky to work for the Portland Sea Dogs. They know how much this opportunity means to me. It’s so nice they let me extend my stay.
I’m scheduled to be on during innings 6-9 today, and tomorrow at jetBlue Park. I’m excited to see former Sea Dogs Steven Wright and Brian Johnson make starts.
Lineups for today’s exhibition game:
Red Sox: Victorino 9, Holt 5, Ortiz DH, Ramirez 7, Napoli 3, Castiloo 8, Bogaerts 6, Hanigan 2, Weeks 4, Wright RH
Rays: Jaso DH, Souza Jr. 9, Cabrera 6, Longoria 5, Loney 3, Jennings 7, Guyer 8, Forsythe 4, Casali 2, Karns LH
Former Sea Dogs on the trip: Wright, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Matty Ott, Matt Spring, Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz, Deven Marrero, Jonathan Roof, Mike Miller, Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Castillo
How about the other side: Former Sea Dog Jared Sandberg is the Durham Manager and is at Rays camp today…Rays Manager Kevin Cash caught Justin Masterson’s debut, I thank Brian McPherson for that tip.
Nice nugget from the Rays PR: Kevin Cash (37) is the youngest current manager or head coach in the major sports: Brad Stevens (38) runner up.
John Farrell on Christian Vazquez “unlikely he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Really hope the news is good for Vazquez, who learned there is something going on in his right elbow.
During minor league Spring Training, they cancel games quicker than the regular season. A few reasons, the fields don’t have tarps and they want their players to get work in. On Friday, with early morning thunderstorms and showers, the Red Sox put together an intrasquad game, which began at 10 AM.
On one of the fields, the battery mate featured Joe Kelly and Christian Vazquez. Kelly’s line: 3 IP, 53 pitches, 31 strikes, 1H, ER, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Shane Victorino led off all six innings, getting about 10 at-bats. The left-side featured Xander Bogaerts and Garin Cecchini.
I really like intrasquad days – the complex features all the Red Sox Minor League Players. I had the chance to see 18-year old Rafael Devers take a few swings. I did not see Yoan Moncada.
Remaining Exhibition Schedule for Portland
Sat. March 28 @ Montgomery Biscuits Rays Port Charlotte 1:00 pm
Sun. March 29 CAMP DAY
Mon. March 30 @ Montgomery Biscuits Rays Port Charlotte 1:00 pm
Tues. March 31 vs. Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Ft. Myers 1:00 pm
Wed. April 1 @ Bowie Baysox Orioles Sarasota 1:00 pm
Thur. April 2 vs. Montgomery Biscuits Rays Ft. Myers 1:00 pm
Fri. April 3 vs. Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Lee County 1:00 pm
Sat. April 4 vs. Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Ft. Myers 1:00 pm
Had a great time catching up with former Sea Dog and fan favorite Iggy Suarez. Suarez is the Hitting Coach for Short-Season Lowell. It would be great to see him back in Portland down the road. The Lowell coaching staff stays back in Ft. Myers once the full-season clubs start, and their work Extended Spring Training. “I was coaching third base for a 13-year old team in Houston, Texas when I got the call from the Red Sox.” said Suarez. I spent about 15 minutes talking to Iggy and I could tell how happy he is in his new position.
One of my favorite parts of Spring Training is catching up with friends I’ve made in Portland over the years. Before today’s games at jetBlue Park, I had a chance to see former Sea Dogs Trainers Brad Pearson and Masai Takahashi – both were trainers in Portland. Former Sea Dogs Pitching Coach Bob Kipper threw to the last group of Major League hitters, which included Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo, Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez.
After watching the Sea Dogs fall to Chattanooga on the minor league side, I climbed up the stairs at the big league game, and saw Castillo’s walk-off homer for Boston. What a way to end the day.
EXHIBITION RECAP: The Sea Dogs were beaten by Chattanooga 5-4 on Field 5, which is named Lou Gorman field. Portland made it interesting in the 9th inning, receiving a pair of RBI singles from David Chester and Jake Romanski. Kevin Heller had two hits, including a run-scoring single in the second
inning. The man of the day was Twins Top Prospect Byron Buxton, who homered on the first 2 pitches he saw. He led off the game with a solo-shot to left field off Zeke Spruill and smashed a three-run homer to right off Heath Hembree. Spiral and Hembree worked just an inning. Here’s Portland’s lineup from today, but expect many changes near the end of camp: Lin 6, Gragnani 5, Margot 8, Tejeda & Chester 3, Romanski 2, Tavarez 9, Heller 7, Bethea DH, Vinicio 4, Mesa EH
I had a chance to chat with Brian Johnson today, who has had a great spring and opening a lot of eyes in the Red Sox system.
Interesting Sea Dogs connection in the Triple-A game today. For Rochester, they had former Sea Dogs Argenis Diaz and Heiker Meneses batting back-to-back.
The Portland Sea Dogs exhibition schedule continued on Wednesday afternoon in Sarasota, Florida against the Bowie Baysox. Bowie scored three runs early and added a four-spot in the seventh, grabbing a 7-0 win over Portland. The ‘Dogs had a terrific chance in the first inning on a back-to-back singles by Cole Sturgeon and Tzu-Wei Lin, who then both execute a double steal. Veteran lefty Tim Berry fanned Jantzen Witte and Jordan Reems, and induced a 4-3 groundout by David Chester. Those two hits were the only in the game for Portland.
Position Players in today’s game for the Sea Dogs: Sturgeon, Lin, Lopez, Witte, Weems, Bethea, Chester, Tejeda, Gragnani, Vinicio, Perkins and Mesa.
23-year old Jacob Dahlstrand worked 4 innings for the Sea Dogs and gave up two runs. William Cuevas, Ellis Jimenez and Jorge Marban worked in relief.
The great thing about minor league spring training, you certainly get to see future Sea Dogs. Most of the players on Portland’s roster at this point will start the season for High-A Salem. Even the coaches are working a level higher. The Salem staff of Carlos Febles, Paul Abbott, Jon Nunnally and Mickey Jiang guarded Portland’s dugout. Billy McMillon, Kevin Walker and Dave Joppie worked the Triple-A Game.
REMEMBER THESE GUYS? Former Sea Dogs Michael Almanzar, Cesar Cabral and Derrik Gibson were at Baltimore’s minor league facility. Gibson has a chance to play everyday in Triple-A Norfolk.
GREAT ADDITION: Salem Hitting Coach Jon Nunnally was a great addition to the Minor League Coach Staff. In just two days, I’ve learned a lot from Jon. He spent last year as the Hitting Coach for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League.
THEY WORK HARD FOR THE MONEY: I’m so impressed with how hard all the trainers and strength coaches work behind the scenes. The beautiful thing about minor league baseball, is seeing the foundation being built. The player development process is a very intriguing thing to see. I think Red Sox fans are going to be very happy with the longterm success of the team.
HE’S ARRIVED AS WELL: PawSox radio voice Josh Mauer has made the trip from the East Coast. His new broadcast partner Will Fleming will arrive on Sunday. It’s nice seeing so many minor league broadcaster tweet from Spring Training.
Here’s the link to my blog from Tuesday. Today I’ll be heading to Sarasota, as the Sea Dogs and PawSox play Baltimore’s affiliate.
Some short video clips from yesterday’s action at the Twins Complex –
Red Sox are off today
Sea Dogs have home exhibition games on Thursday and Friday against Chattanooga and Bowie. A reminder, if you come down here, access to the minor league side is free.
Do You Remember This Guy? Henry Ramos was hitting .372 in May of last year, but injured his leg and missed the remainder of the season. At the time, Ramos was one of the best hitters in the Eastern League. Funny thing about last year’s club, Mookie Betts, Sean Coyle, Keury De La Cruz and Henry Ramos hardly played together due to injuries and promotions. In 48 games in his Double-A debut, Ramos hit .326 (59-for-181) with 2 HR and 23 RBI. One of my biggest thrills was the April 25th game against Trenton. Henry delivered a two-run walk-off single in the 15th inning, giving Portland a 9-8 win over Trenton. The win went to position player Peter Hissey, who allowed a run in the top of the inning on a wild pitch.
(Ft. Myers, Florida) – The Minnesota Twins Double-A team is no longer the New Britain Rock Cats, and I almost forgot that as I arrived at the Twins minor league complex in Ft. Myers. The Chattanooga Lookouts are the new affiliate, with New Britain now aligning with the Colorado Rockies.
This afternoon in a game that started at 1:01 PM, the Sea Dogs fell to Chattanooga 4-3. With the game scoreless, both teams scored single runs in the fourth. Top prospect Manuel Margot (2-for-4) nailed a triple to left-center field and scored on a run-scoring groundout by Carlos Mesa (Yoan Moncada’s friend). Joe Gunkel fired 4 innings for Portland, giving up one run on 5 hits.
Chattanooga scored twice in the sixth inning on a two-run homer by Mike Gonzales. Portland received a two-run homer in the ninth by Oscar Tejeda, a muscle shot over the right-field fence.
Portland pitchers today: Gunkel 4 IP, Kyle Martin 2 IP, Simon Mercedes IP and Madison Younginer pitched the final frame and walked 5. On Wednesday, the Sea Dogs and PawSox travel to Sarasota to face the Baltimore affiliates.
Opponent Bites: I was really impressed with Jake Reed, who threw two dominant innings for the opposition. Reed was the 5th overall pick out of Oregon in last year’s draft. Miguel Sano is making his making way back from Tommy John and finished 0-for-3 with a walk. Bryan Buxton did play in the Triple-A game. I had the pleasure of seeing longtime Twin Tom Kelly with a fungo bat on Field 4. When I see him every year, it just brings me back to those great years of Twins baseball.
Getting to know Joe Thurston: I had a nice conversation with Joe Thurston before the minor league games on joining Portland. Thurston will be mainly a coach, but listed on the roster as player/coach. The former big leaguer was playing Winter Ball up until January, but found the right situation to get into coaching and accepted the offer from the Red Sox.
Thurston was contacted a few years ago about coaching, but felt he was swinging the bat well, and wanted to continue playing. I think Portland fans will really like Joe. He’s a terrific guy, who joins a great staff. Also new is pitching coach Kevin Walker. Kevin was in High-A Salem last season and replaces Bob Kipper, who was promoted to Triple-A.
The additions to the Twins minor league complex is unreal. They built a giant dorm for the players, but it looks like a mansion.
Portland and Pawtucket now have 10 games left on their exhibition schedule. The teams break camp on April 5th with Opening Day for Portland on April 9th against the Reading Fightin Phils at Hadlock Field.
Do you like apps? The First Pitch App has an update, so it includes everything for 2015.
Good morning from Ft. Myers! I’ve never one to rub in the weather down here, so I won’t mention anything about the temperature, but I will say it’s beautiful.
The Red Sox are playing the Miami Marlins today in Jupiter. Nice to see former Red Sox Broadcaster and Media guru Glenn Geffner calling games for the Marlins. He’s helped me in many ways over the years.
Portland and Pawtucket are playing games at the Twins Complex, which is also in Ft. Myers. There’s a chance a few big leaguers could be playing in those games. Former Sea Dogs Heiker Meneses, Ryan Pressley and Tony Thomas are in Twins camp.
In the off-season in 2013, there was a feeling that Red Sox had way too many questions going into the season. I feel the same could be said for this season, which I don’t agree with. Take a look at the potential Opening Day roster, compared to the 2013 Opening Day Roster.
Aceves/Kelly or Wright?
Uehera/Uehara (possible DL)
It did rain very hard in Ft. Myers today, but that still beats the weather we are currently getting back north. The Sea Dogs and PawSox games were cut short, as was the Red Sox against the Cardinals.
Portland and Pawtucket played on the back fields at JetBlue Park today. The Sea Dogs were leading the Montgomery Biscuits 3-1 when play was called in the bottom of the fifth inning. Pat Light pitched four innings for Portland, giving up one run. The ‘Dogs scored all their turns in the third inning. Kendrick Perkins led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Kevin Heller. Heller scored on a run-scoring double by Tzu-Wei Lin. After a long out off the bat of Jordan Weems, Jantzen Witte nailed an RBI double to right.
Also, I was really impressed with Jonathan Aro. He’s kind of an unknown reliever, who was signed as an International Free Agent in 2011.
A reminder on minor league spring training games, most of the players are playing a level higher for the time being. More moves happen soon and the complete rosters can change as close to the last day of camp.
I had the chance to chat with these great people today: Christian Vazquez, who was doing interviews with a TV station from Puerto Rico, Jared Sandberg (former Sea Dog) and manager of Triple-A Durham. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, Mike Hazen and Bob Brenly.
On Tuesday, the Sea Dogs and PawSox play at Minnesota’s complex. If you missed it earlier this off-season, the New Britain Rock Cats are now affiliated with Colorado, so the Twins Double-A affiliate is Chattanooga.
I’ll be at those games tomorrow! Thanks for reading.
Today I’ll be heading to JetBlue Park for the Sea Dogs and PawSox exhibition games. The Red Sox are also playing at the complex, and I hope to catch up with some players and/or coaches before of after. The Sea Dogs open up on April 9th against the Reading Fighting Phils (Phillies affiliate). Ironically, the Red Sox open up the season against the Phillies. I advise all Mainers to try and visit this area at some point. The Red Sox and Twins have terrific complexes, and it’s really fun for the kids. In addition to the big league games, you can see all the minor league games for free.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll have an update later
On Sunday morning, I’ll head down to Ft. Myers and provide coverage of the Sea Dogs and Red Sox all week long. I can’t express how grateful I am for this opportunity, and a big thanks to the Sea Dogs and the Burke family for sending me down there.
The Sea Dogs began their minor league games on Wednesday, I’l have complete reports from all the exhibition games. Typically, most of the rosters right now aren’t set, and players tend to play a level higher during minor-league spring training.
In case you missed it: The Red Sox announced the Joe Thurston will be added to the Portland roster as a player/coach. Thurston played in the Mexican League last year, but was a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2008 and appeared in 4 games with the Red Sox that season.
Great article on the Red Sox system by MLB.com (currently ranked 2nd overall in MLB).