Snow wipes out Mariners-Indians series
CLEVELAND -- With the grounds crew still shoveling snow off the field, the Cleveland Indians decided it was time to head north to Milwaukee.
The Indians moved their series against the Los Angeles Angels to Milwaukee's Miller Park after a spring snowstorm wiped out Cleveland's series against Seattle for the fourth straight day Monday.
"I thought we were going to move it to North Dakota, but we got Milwaukee instead," joked Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner, a native of Sykeston, N.D.
The teams will play a three-game series beginning Tuesday in a ballpark that has a retractable roof, unlike Jacobs Field. The opener and Wednesday's game will be played at 7:05 p.m. EDT, with Thursday's game scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
While a snowy, rainy mix stopped falling Monday, the grounds crew was unable to get the surface in shape after three days of snow. About a foot of snow remained on the field Monday afternoon with workers shoveling it into small carts to be hauled away.
"They've got a lot of work ahead of them. It's a tough job," said Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore, sipping a cup of hot chocolate in the team's clubhouse.
Indians manager Eric Wedge said the field was expected to be ready Friday, when they are slated to open a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox.
Friday's game will serve as the unofficial home opener. The Indians were ahead 4-0 with two outs in the top of the fifth, when their home opener Friday was called off by umpires because of heavy snow. The grounds crew, armed with backpack blowers and brooms, spent more time on the field than the players during nearly three hours of stoppages.
"I've never felt cold like that in my life," said Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta, a native of the Dominican Republic.
After Friday's game was called, the teams hoped to play a day-night doubleheader Saturday, but that was put off by the spring storm. They then scheduled a doubleheader for Sunday, which also was postponed.
"We went out and made some snow angels and made some goofy pictures, but I'm bored to death," Indians outfielder David Dellucci said.
Players packed Monday for an evening flight to Milwaukee, where the Brewers will sell tickets for $10 each, with seating limited to the field and loge levels.
"I can't imagine there will be a whole lot of fans," Hafner said. "The most important thing is that you get the games in."
It's the first time weather has forced a series to be moved since the Florida Marlins played the Montreal Expos on Sept. 13-14, 2004, in Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field because of Hurricane Ivan.
Angels vice president Tim Mead said Milwaukee made sense for both clubs because Cleveland can return home Friday and the Angels will travel on to Boston.
"It's a compromise that does not allow an unfair advantage," Mead said.
Still undetermined is when and where the Indians and Mariners will make up their four-game series.
Wedge expected they would play a doubleheader on a mutual off day and could make up one of the games when they travel to Seattle the last week of the season.
"We're kind of off the charts now," Wedge said. "We're rolling with it and making the best of the situation."
The cold caused another problem for the Indians -- an injury to catcher Victor Martinez, who strained his left quadriceps while running to first base Friday. The Indians are bringing along minor league catcher Mike Rose from Triple-A Buffalo in case Martinez is put on the disabled list.
Wedge said Martinez was feeling a little better Monday, and the Indians may face the Angels a player short for a game or two while they wait to make a decision.
While Wedge spoke with optimism, some players expressed concern and frustration over the league's scheduling and how the makeup games will affect their season.
"It could be a big problem down the road," Hafner said. "Once the season gets going, you don't want to not get your off days -- on top of that playing doubleheaders. So it could be a big pain."
Dellucci, who is from Louisiana, and Sabathia, who lives near Oakland, Calif., both think the schedule makers need to put teams in better environments next April.
"We're sitting here snowed out four games when we could have been in Seattle with a retractable roof," Dellucci said. "There's plenty of teams down South. Tampa's got a dome. It needs to be taken into consideration in the near future."
Sabathia, who was scheduled to start Monday, will pitch Tuesday against Ervin Santana.
"It is weird waking up one day and saying, `We're going to play three games in Milwaukee," said Sabathia, who walked into the clubhouse in a brown winter coat. "It's going to be tough."
Milwaukee is billing the series between the Indians and the Angels as the return of American League baseball to the city.
The last game between two AL clubs in Milwaukee was Sept. 28, 1997, when Baltimore beat the Brewers. Milwaukee moved to the National League the following season.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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