Despite snow, thoughts turn to Portland Sea Dogs, Maine’s collegiate summer teams

So what if we’re in the dead of winter?
Snowdrifts? So long as the fenders stay clear of them, who cares?
And let the mercury sink below zero if it wants.
None of that means that you can’t think about baseball/
Or talk about it.
And although first pitch at Fenway — and Hadlock, too — is nearly three months away, baseball is beginning to work its way back into a cold day’s conversation.
For starters, there was the announcement by the Red Sox that all three members of the Portland Sea Dogs field staff – manager Kevin Boles, hitting coach Dave Joppie, and pitching coach Bob Kipper – would all be returning.
This after the Dogs had turned in a 59-83 record, the worst mark in the franchise’s 18 year history.
Still, as much as minor league fans want to see their team win every game, farm clubs such as the Double A Sea Dogs aren’t in business to win Eastern League championships.
Indeed, the Dogs exist to help Boston win another World Series.
That didn’t happen in 2011, as we all know, but that doesn’t take away from the successes that Boles and Co. can rightfully point to.
They helped get Ryan Lavarnway and Tommy Hottovy to the big leagues.
They helped Will Middlebrooks, Alex Wilson, and Che-Hsuan Lin to Triple-A Pawtucket.
They turned Alex Hassan, a part-time player in Single-A the year before, into a bona fide big league prospect
And they helped turn Stephen Fife, Tim Federowicz, and Chih-Hsien Chiang into the bargaining chips that brought in Erik Bedard from Seattle for the playoff run.
Okay, that last part didn’t quite work out so well.
Boles can’t be blamed for that.
With the 2012 campaign waiting around the next snowbank, it will be interesting to see what Boles, Joppie, and Kipper can all do with a newer group of players.
And while on the subject of baseball, Maine’s two wooden bat collegiate summer teams are readying themselves for the coming season, to begin in June.
Sanford Mainers (NECBL) manager Aaron Izaryk is well along the way to finalizing his roster for the coming season.
Izaryk, who played and coached at UMaine before taking over the baseball program at Bridgton Academy two years ago, has stacked the Mainers with a strong group made up mostly of Division I players.
That includes two Black Bears — infielder Troy Black and pitcher D.J. Voisine — both of whom he helped recruit to Orono.
Black, who hails from Mississauga, Ont., near where Izaryk grew up, is an aggressive player, and will bring plenty of fire to the Mainers.
“(Black) is a burner on the bases,” said Izaryk. “He can flat out play defense. And he makes the offense run. He can steal a base, or lay down a bunt and get a guy over. He’s just an all around strong player.”
Meanwhile, in Old Orchard Beach, the new Futures League franchise is making plans for its inaugural campaign at The Ballpark, but has yet to announce any player or coaching signings.