Thursday, March 31, 2011
Posted: 3:30 p.m. Updated: 4:56 p.m.
By Chuck Garfien
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Indians head groundskeeper Brandon Koehnke knew he had quite a mess on his hands when he arrived at Progressive Field this morning at 6:30 a.m.
Two inches of snow had fallen in Cleveland, and the field hes responsible for, which just had brand new grass installed this past winter, suddenly looked ready for Christmas Day, certainly not Opening Day.
The White Sox were supposed to hold a workout here. Instead, the session began with Juan Pierre, Mark Buehrle, Ramon Castro, and 3rd base coach Jeff Cox building a snowman.
Buehrle, who will extend his White Sox record by making his 9th Opening Day start, loves the Midwest. Hes just not sure why the White Sox always start each season playing in it.
It makes no sense, Buehrle said. Why start on the East coast or the Midwest where theres snow and its 30 degrees? Theres no reason not to be in Anaheim where its 80 degrees right now.
For the record, it was 84 degrees today in Anaheim. It will be 80 there tomorrow. Where are the Angels beginning the season? Kansas City. Buehrles right. It makes no sense.
As for being in Cleveland for Opening Day, Ozzie Guillen your thoughts?
Very stupid to play in Cleveland right now, Guillen said. Nothing against Cleveland. We expect that. When you play in Cleveland on Opening Day...a couple years ago they canceled like 30 games here. But were here, and have to play through snow.
Speaking of which:
Hey, you ever been hit by a snowball? Matt Thornton said to Chris Sale as he walked out of the dugout. Sale proceeded to get pelted by a 97-mile-per-hour fastball.
Sale, a Florida native, was definitely at a disadvantage, which might be the same for hitters on Friday, even if the temps rise into the 40s, which has been forecasted.
The hitters are going to be cold up there, Thornton said. I honestly think its an advantage for the pitcher because youre out there and feeling warm and pretty much in constant motion. Hitters dont like hitting in the cold either."
Maybe so, but how about posing for a picture in the cold in shorts and no shirt? Thats what 43-year-old Omar Vizquel did on the field for a Cleveland newspaper. The former Indian is set to begin his 23rd season in the major leagues. Friday will be a memorable day for Vizquel, assuming hes not in the hospital suffering from frostbite and pneumonia.
This one in particular is really special because my best years were here in Cleveland and how special everything went when we had those teams, Vizquel said. Its going to be really, really great. An emotional moment for me.
By the afternoon, the snow had been removed from the Progressive Field tarp. Groundskeepers were blow drying the outfield grass. Yes, blow drying.
Thats April baseball. The White Sox are used to it. And even though hed rather be starting the season somewhere much more tropical, Guillen doesnt want to hear any excuses.
A lot of players this time of year have to prepare mentally to play in cold weather. Thats no excuse, the White Sox manager said. You want to play in nice weather, sign with the NBA. You play indoors and youre fine.
Last year the White Sox opened in Chicago. This year Cleveland.
As Thornton said, It is what it is.
Next year? On to Detroit!!
I'll be sure to bring my snowsuit.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.