PORTLAND – David Bacani expected the standard questions from his new teammates as they arrived in Portland early in the week – Where is a good place to eat? Where can you go to have some fun on an off day?

The four-year Eastern League veteran is used to being a food critic or a travel agent, but he hadn’t played the role of fashion consultant until the Portland Sea Dogs gathered for their first team workout in Maine on Tuesday.

“One of the questions I’ve been getting a lot today is ‘How many layers do you wear in this weather?'” the Sea Dogs infielder as he clasped both hands around a steaming cup of coffee.

Rain, snow and sleet greeted the 2007 Sea Dogs as they trickled in from Florida this week, but there was enough of a break in the precipitation for new manager Arnie Beyeler (pronounced Baylor) to lead his charges onto the recently unfrozen Hadlock Field sod.

“It was -5 when I was up here a couple of months ago. So it’s a heat wave now, right?,” Beyeler joked.

The players took the workout as a crash course on the unpredictable climate in the Pine Tree State.

“We know that the weather isn’t going to change for a little while, so we’re going to have to acclimate to it and deal with it the best we can,” said Sea Dogs’ reliever Bryce Cox.

The Sea Dogs open the new season Thursday, beginning defense of the first Eastern League championship in franchise history against the Connecticut Defenders at 6 p.m.

Pre-game festivities include the unveiling of the championship banner and distribution of championship rings. Bacani, a 27-year-old infielder who was hit by a franchise-record 20 pitches last year, is one of 16 players who saw time on last year’s squad.

“I’m actually living with the same family I lived with last year, and they were showing me some video clips of last year,” Bacani said. “It definitely brings back some good memories. And I still keep in touch with a lot of those guys from last year.”

“It’s a different team. We’ve got a lot of young guys. Last year, we had a lot of veteran guys, and a lot of guys knew what it took to win at that level,” he added. “We’ve got a lot of young guys, but they’re hungry. You can tell by the way they play the game. Their first time at Double-A; they’re going to want to impress some people.”

Among the newcomers is Beyeler, the successor to Todd Claus, who was promoted to a Major League advance scout after two years with the Sea Dogs.

“Arnie’s a straight shooter,” Bacani said. “He tells you what he expects as a player. And as professionals, we kind of feed from a manager where we know we have to put out for him.”

Beyeler, 42, is returning to the Red Sox organization after a three-year stint in the Texas Rangers system and one with the San Diego Padres. He managed Boston’s Single-A clubs in Lowell, Mass., and Augusta, Ga., for three years. This is his first year as a Double-A skipper.

Beyeler, who coached winter ball with Claus, had about a week in Florida to familiarize himself with his new team.

“We’ve been around each other a little bit,” he said. “There’s some pitchers that we haven’t seen throw and a couple of position players that I’ve seen play but just haven’t been around that much. I’ve done my homework with some of these guys. I’ve talked with Todd about a lot of these guys and got a lot of input from him. (Hitting coach) Russ Morman was here, too, and I lean a lot on him, too.”

Beyeler has some experience taking over a championship club. He inherited one in Stockton, Calif., his first year in the Rangers organization and led the team back to the league finals.

“I seem to stumble into stuff like that,” Beyeler said. “The players change. If we have the horses, we’ll be there at the end. If we don’t, we won’t.”

“It’s all about these guys developing and getting to the next level,” he added. “It doesn’t matter where we’re at or who we’re following, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing day in and day out, hopefully win a few ballgames along the way and get a lot of these guys out of here and closer to Boston.”


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