OAKLAND, Calif. – The tarp was rolled up neatly and sitting in foul territory beyond the third-base line of O.co Coliseum, pushed up against a set of field-level stands.
The green cover shined under the stadium lights, but otherwise it remained inconspicuous off to the side of the field. That’s the same place it had been sitting in the wee hours Friday morning when rain pelted East Oakland.
If it had been anywhere else — like perhaps covering the infield — there would have been baseball played Friday night. Instead, moments before the first pitch was scheduled to be thrown — the game was postponed.
The reason? Well, you could say it was rained out. But there wasn’t a drop of rain falling when it was postponed. No, the game wasn’t played due to the fact that the infield dirt was a gooey mess.
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“It was very soft,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “That’s probably the worst conditions I’ve seen in all my years of baseball. It was not safe for the players. It was a safety issue more than anything. I think they made the right decision.”
After some discussion by players and player reps for both teams and consulting with the players’ union, it was determined the game would be made up at later date. The Mariners will play an afternoon game on Saturday with Felix Hernandez scheduled to start against Oakland’s Dan Straily.
McClendon was walking around the field with A’s manager Bob Melvin after umpire crew chief Fieldin Culbreth asked them to inspect the field along with him.
“I was walking toward shortstop and my ankle turned and went down, I’d say, probably two inches,” he said.
The umpires and two managers decided it was best not to play.
“Decisions like that you want as many eyes and ears and brains working on it as possible so you can make the wisest decision,” Culbreth said. “I think in the end the powers that be made the correct decision.”
It’s clear the Mariners were irked a decision even had to be made. They wouldn’t comment on whether a forfeit was requested.
“It’s unusual,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “It’s very unusual. They just said they couldn’t get the tarp down. We aren’t happy at all.”
It’s yet another embarrassing stadium related issue for the A’s franchise and more problems for the Mariners in Oakland. Less than a year ago, Seattle was in the visiting clubhouse when it was flooded by sewage, which is an ongoing issue for the stadium in other areas as well.
But this latest fiasco could have been avoided.
How did the field get in that condition?
Well, it’s a long story, much like the lists of things wrong with the decrepit stadium that the A’s are still playing in. The Oakland area has been hit hard by rain in the last few weeks. The A’s had their second game of the season postponed because of rain. And there has only been momentary let-ups — just long enough to sneak in some games.
“We had information last night that there was going to be a break in the storm,” said A’s vice president of ballpark operations Dave Rinetti. “And because of that we wanted to use that opportunity to help dry out the field. Unfortunately, we were wrong on the amount of rain, and we got about a third of an inch of rain last night. We did not have the tarp on the field. We got here this morning, the infield was under water, and we did everything possible starting at 7 a.m. to get the field ready for tonight.”
The information the A’s received was from a weather consultant that Rinetti wouldn’t name.
McClendon was informed that there was a problem when he arrived at O.co Coliseum.
“I got here at 12:30 and they informed us that we could not take batting practice on the field,” McClendon said. “We had early work scheduled. They said they were doing the best to get the field ready. I had no idea it was this bad.”
It never got much better. More rain hit the stadium in the afternoon, forcing the tarp to be put on the field and delaying the preparation even more.
Noesi out, Leone in
The Mariners made a roster move on Friday. Reliever Hector Noesi was designated for assignment a day after giving up a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th inning. Hard-throwing reliever Dominic Leone was selected from Class AAA Tacoma.
“We felt he was a good fit at this time,” McClendon said.
McClendon doesn’t have a set role for Leone. But he said he isn’t afraid to use him in impactful situations.