PORTLAND – What many thought was a foregone conclusion has finally come to fruition.

Portland Sea Dogs third baseman Kevin Youkilis was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after the Sea Dogs’ doubleheader split with the Trenton Thunder Monday night.

“I’m excited,” said Youkilis, who leaves Portland having reached base in 62 straight games. “That’s one more step toward the big leagues.”

Youkilis hit .327 in 94 games and leads the Eastern League with 86 walks.

His .487 on-base percentage leads all of professional baseball and shatters the Portland franchise record of .421 which had been shared by Billy McMillon and Kevin Millar.

“It was time,” said Portland manager Ron Johnson. “We’ve been talking about it for a few days and I finally got the call from (farm director Ben Cherington).”

There was speculation that Youkilis would start the season with Pawtucket after he hit .344 in 44 games with Double-A Trenton last season.

But the Red Sox elected to send him to Portland, where after a slow start average-wise, he turned into the on-base machine most expected.

Youkilis, who had six home runs and 36 RBIs, reached base in 92 of 94 games this season.

“He needed to be at the next level,” said Johnson. “He earned it. I’m very happy for him.”

With Youkilis gone, the Sea Dogs will have not only a big hole to fill in the batting order, but also at third base, where he had been steadily improving.

Kevin Haverbusch or Jim Goelz will be activated off of the disabled list today.

Tony Schrager will likely step in at the hot corner, although Trace Coquillette and Raul Nieves can also play the position.

“We’ve got some options,” said Johnson.

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