MIAMI -- Hurricane Ivan has forced the storm-weary Florida Marlins to play at least part of their five-game series next week against Montreal at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.
The teams will play at the White Sox ballpark on Monday and Tuesday rather than at Pro Player Stadium, but whether or when to return to Miami for the rest of the series is yet to be decided.
The Marlins can't afford any more rainouts after three games last weekend against the Chicago Cubs were postponed because of
Hurricane Frances. Florida is scheduled to play three doubleheaders
in 11 days beginning Friday at Wrigley Field.
Whether the Marlins remain in Chicago beyond Monday and Tuesday to play the Expos will depend on how severely Ivan affects the Miami area. The storm could reach southern Florida as soon as Sunday, forecasters said.
"It would be weird -- a home game at an American League park," Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre said. "But you definitely don't want to be sitting around another three or four days."
A motocross event made Olympic Stadium in Montreal unavailable for any of the games.
Because of the postponements caused by Frances, the Marlins are scheduled to play 27 games in the final 24 days of the regular
season. The defending World Series champions are in the thick of
the race for the NL wild-card berth.
The Marlins flew to Chicago on Thursday night after a 4-0 loss to the New York Mets. With Ivan approaching, the organization invited the families of the players to accompany the team, and several players took the club up on the offer.
"If we have to play games somewhere else [next week], we don't have to worry about the families," manager Jack McKeon said.
McKeon said he initially packed for a three-day trip, but he was heading back home to get more clothes before driving to the airport.
With yet another hurricane threatening Florida, Pierre said it was difficult to leave -- even though the series against the Cubs is considered crucial.
"Definitely you'll be distracted," he said. "It's hard to go
play baseball when you know you might be coming back to something
devastating. But you're professional. You've got to learn to block
it out. The Cubs aren't going to feel sorry for us."