>Step closer to Fenway

   Jacoby Ellsbury is one step closer to the Major Leagues.
   Ellsbury, a 2002 Madras High School graduate, was promoted by the Boston Red Sox organization from Single-A ball to Double-A last week. Ellsbury played his first game for the Portland (Maine) Seadogs Thursday.
   Ellsbury led off for the Seadogs, struck out in his first appearance, then singled in his second at-bat and promptly stole second. He eventually walked with the bases loaded to get an RBI, and finished the night 1 for 4.
   Through Monday night, Ellsbury is hitting .400 with the Seadogs.
   While Major League teams have several A-level squads, they each have only one AA and AAA team. The Pawtuckett (Rhode Island) Red Sox is Boston's AAA team.
   Ellsbury -- the Sox's first overall pick in the 2005 draft, 23rd overall -- started his career at Lowell, Mass., playing for the short-season A-ball Spinners last summer after an all-America career at Oregon State. He started this year in the Carolina League's Wilmington Blue Rocks, the highest level A ball.
   He finished the first half of the Carolina League as its top hitter with a .335 average. In his last two weeks with the Blue Rocks, Ellsbury endured a short hitting slump and his average dropped to below .300. He hit in five of his last six games with the team, though, and was hitting .298 upon his call-up.
   Ellsbury's statistics at Wilmington were solid throughout. He hit four home runs, five triples and four doubles. His on-base percentage was .378. He led the team in steals with 25 (third in the league) in 34 attempts. He missed nearly three weeks of play in May with a quad strain. Defensively, he committed just one error.
   The Seadogs lead the Eastern League's Northern Division with a 54-40 record.
   The Maine team has been in existence since 1994, when it was an expansion team of the International League, and an affiliate of the Florida Marlins. The Seadogs became a Red Sox affiliate in 2002. Its Hadlock Field now has a big, green fence in left field, ala the Green Monster in Fenway Park in Boston. Its nickname in Portland: the Maine Monster.
   The Pawtucket Red Sox have six outfielders on their roster. David Murphy, a 6-4, 190-pound 24-year-old, has been manning centerfield most often, and has been their most consistent outfielder with the bat this season. Murphy started the year in Portland, but has been with Pawtucket since May. He's hit .294 in 45 games with the PawSox.
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