PORTLAND — By the end of last season, Stephen Fife was hanging on. Now he believes he is ready to do that, and then some, in 2011.

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

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, allowing 25 runs over his next four outings (18 1/3 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. 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 back again as we attempt to track the progress of baseball players from Maine in the minor leagues.

Seven players are toiling in the minors — catcher Ryan Baker, Portland (Yankees); pitcher Charlie Furbush, South Portland (Tigers); 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 on its roster.

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

Giobbi is not on any of the current active rosters 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 51’s.

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 different teams. The team compiled a list of 27 players (actually listing 30 players, but including three — Mike Cameron, Daisuke Matsuzaka and David Ortiz — who appeared with the Sea Dogs only on rehab assignments).

Of the 27, 10 are on the Red Sox. How many of the 27 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 about, including outfielder Bubba Bell in Columbus, Ohio (Indians), outfielder Brandon Moss in Lehigh, Penn. (Phillies), catcher Dusty Brown in Indianapolis (Pirates) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo in Tuscon (Padres).

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

In Pawtucket’s 2-1 season-opening win on Thursday, outfielder Juan Carlos Linares tripled in both Pawtucket runs. Shortstop Jose Iglesias had two hits, and Michael Bowden picked up the save.

• • •

The Yankees are coming to Portland, when New York’s Double-A affiliate visits Hadlock Field from Monday through Wednesday.

Among the top prospects on the Trenton 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, this series, but will likely face No. 4 Banuelos, a lefty with a 2.59 ERA in the minors.

Romine may be the Yankees’ catcher of the future, while Venditte is unique because he can pitch with either arm.

• • •

The trivia answer to the question about the 27 former Sea Dogs on 15 different 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 — Livian Hernandez (’96).

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

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