April 21. 2013 1:14AM

Kevin Gray's On Baseball: Salem's Doyle option No. 1 for Sox?

New Hampshire Union Leader

WHAT A difference a year makes. Not only are the Red Sox in first place, they have plenty of depth at first-place Triple-A Pawtucket and are prepared for the long haul. PawSox righty Terry Doyle, a Salem High and Boston College graduate, could be option No. 1 when Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington needs a pitcher for the starting rotation.

Doyle shut down the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in his most recent start, improving to 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA. The 27-year-old held Lehigh Valley to two hits through seven innings despite working on three days of rest. Doyle, who signed with the Red Sox in the off-season following a stint in Japan, has allowed only five hits and two earned runs through 18 1/3 innings.

This is exactly how Doyle envisioned his season at Triple-A. Pitch well. Wait for an opportunity. Eventually join the Boston Red Sox.

If Red Sox starters Felix Doubront or Alfredo Aceves fail to meet expectations at the back of the rotation - or if there is an injury among the starters - Doyle and PawSox teammate Allen Webster would be the best bets to receive a call-up. Webster is on Boston's 40-man roster; Doyle is not.

"Going to Pawtucket, I'll have an opportunity to prove myself," Doyle said last month. "Every year, there's always injuries, there's always going to be someone going down. The opportunity will come. It's just a matter of when."

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603 REPORT: Atlanta Braves brothers B.J. and Justin Upton each homered off Pirates lefty Jeff Locke, a Kennett High of Conway graduate, in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Locke (1-1, 5.17 ERA) also gave up a homer to Chris Johnson. The lefty is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday in Philadelphia ... Cubs farmhand Brad Zapenas of Nashua North, fully recovered from a shoulder injury, was expected to play in live games at extended spring training this weekend ... Fisher Cats shortstop Kevin Nolan, a Nashua South and Winthrop University grad, went 3-for-10 on New Hampshire's first road trip. Nolan went 0-for-3 on Friday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, dropping his average to .258.

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FISHER TRACKS: Travis Snider, once considered a long-term corner outfielder for the Blue Jays, has settled into his new home in Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old had three doubles in the first two games against Atlanta, raising to .342 his average ... Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill, who played shortstop for New Hampshire's inaugural season in 2004, suffered a fractured left hand bone and will miss four to six weeks.

Kevin Pillar of the Fisher Cats had the fourth inside-the-park home run in franchise history with a wall-ball blast to center field on Friday night against Binghamton. It was the first inside-the-park homer since Eric Thames pulled off the feat on May 28, 2010. Thames is currently playing for Mariners' Triple-A affiliate Tacoma.

Staff writer Kevin Gray covers pro baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is kgray@unionleader.com.