The first time Brandon Moss addressed Portland Sea Dogs fans, it was at a community luncheon early in the 2005 season. Moss, then 21, spoke in his Georgia drawl.

“I got to say,” Moss said, with his ever-present smile, “y’all are crazy.

“This is not baseball weather.”

Moss would then thank fans for coming out in the cold, even though he could not comprehend it.

Moss, now 34, will be back at Hadlock – in April, naturally – as the Sea Dog continue to commemorate their 25th season.

Moss and Carlos Tosca, the former Sea Dogs manager, will appear at Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game – April 18 was the date of Portland’s first home game, in 1994.

Moss’ availability was not assured until the season began, when it was clear he would not play baseball this year. The Athletics released Moss in spring training.

“I had a feeling if I got released, it would be difficult to get another job. It was,” Moss said by phone, from his home in Greensboro, Georgia, about an hour east of Atlanta.

Don’t feel bad for Moss, who is likely the nation’s highest paid Little League coach, at $8.25 million.

Moss is benefitting from his foresight. A slugging first baseman/DH/corner outfielder, Moss was a free agent after the 2016 season.

“I was searching so hard for a two-year deal,” Moss said. “I knew (the free agent market the next year) would be flooded with more players like myself.”

Moss broke into the majors in 2007 with Boston. He became an established major leaguer in 2012, and entered free agency for the first time last year. He signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Royals, with an option for 2019 or a $1-million buyout.

Moss struggled with a .207 average, although he still hit 22 home runs. Kansas City traded him to the A’s in January, along with some cash. When Oakland released him, his contract for this year ($7.25 million) as well as the buyout were guaranteed.

So, Moss could be picky.

“I was not going to sign a minor league deal. I’ve done that,” Moss said. “Right now, until this contract expires, I’m just waiting to see if a need (in the majors) arises. Somebody is paying me, no matter what.”

And next year, if no major league offers come his way?

“I’ll probably retire,” Moss said without hesitation.

Moss has other priorities – Allison, his wife of 14 years, and sons Jayden, 8, and Brody, 5.

“I’ve been gone from their lives so much,” Moss said. “I’m ready to do some things that I missed out on, and just be a dad.”

Among those things are baseball with his boys. Moss coaches both of their youth teams. Brody just turned 5, so I asked Moss if he was in T-ball. The dad laughed.

“I’ve been pitching to them since they were 2,” Moss said. Both boys plays on teams with older players.

Jayden is expected to be in Portland on Wednesday. He can learn about his dad’s heroics in Sea Dogs’ only championship run, in 2006, when Brandon Moss slugged five postseason home runs and was named the MVP of the playoffs.

Moss’ career had peaks and valleys from there. He received a 2007 World Series ring. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 2008 and slumped. He had the look of a minor league journeyman – with thoughts of playing in Japan – when he broke out with the A’s in 2012 with 21 home runs in 84 games. Moss was named to the 2014 All-Star Game.

He was traded to the Indians after that season, and then to the Cardinals at the trade deadline in 2015. Moss stayed in St. Louis through 2016.

Now he has no team. But there are memories, including two seasons in Portland.

“Our teams were awesome,” Moss said. “We probably had the best minor league team assembled in 2005 (with players like Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Jon Lester). The next year, with not as much talent, we ended up winning it.”

Moss and fans can reminisce Wednesday. Temperatures will be in the 40’s.

“Yeah, I remember that, too,” Moss said.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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