OAKLAND, Calif. -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon walked toward shortstop and his right foot sunk some two inches, causing him to turn his right ankle. That was minor, yet everybody involved in the postponed game between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics on Friday night feared the worst if they had tried to play on a rain-soaked field.
Even the umpiring crew deemed the conditions too dangerous. McClendon had his doubts the field could be ready for a 1:05 p.m. first pitch Saturday.
"That's probably the worst conditions I've seen in all my years in baseball. It's not safe," McClendon said. "It was just a safety issue more than anything. They made the right decision."
David Rinetti, A's vice president of stadium operations, said the tarp was kept off the field overnight in an effort to let it dry out after a week of heavy rains in the drought-starved Bay Area but an unexpected downpour caused further problems and the grounds crew worked tirelessly on the infield dirt from 7 a.m. until the game was called about the time of scheduled first pitch at 7:05 p.m. A delay had previously been announced.
"Unfortunate misinterpretation of the forecast," Oakland general manager Billy Beane said.
The A's use a weather consultant to help make decisions during the wet weather and regarding use of the tarp. Rinetti said one-third of an inch of rain hit the area and the infield was under water when officials arrived Friday. The tarp went back on at about 4:35 p.m. when a steady rain began again.
"Over the last week we've had probably more rain at the facility than we've had as long as I've been here, which is many, many years," Rinetti said. "The field has taken a significant hit all week, and we've been working with a weather consultant get as much up to date information as possible. We had information last night that there was going to be a break in the storm. 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."
Players on both sides decided to play one game Saturday afternoon rather than a split doubleheader, which will be played later. Felix Hernandez (1-0) will start as scheduled for Seattle against Dan Straily, who had been set to go Friday in his season debut.
"Prepare to pitch tomorrow," Hernandez said. "That happens."
Mariners athletic trainer Rick Griffin recalled a time in Chicago in the late 90s when Seattle played on a soggy field and lost one player to a groin injury and another to a pulled hamstring, prompting manager Lou Piniella to tell everyone, "Nobody run hard," Griffin said, quoting the former skipper.
This marked Oakland's third weather-related game to be called off in seven days after the preseason Bay Bridge finale against the Giants was canceled last Saturday. Tuesday's game was also postponed by rain and made up Wednesday as part of a day-night doubleheader.
For the Mariners, it was another strange visit to the rundown Oakland Coliseum.
Last June 16, a clogged pipe caused a sewage backup and flooding on the bottom floor of the ballpark that sent the Mariners and A's scrambling around in towels. They headed for higher ground, to shower in the Oakland Raiders' locker room.
A hazmat crew inspected the affected areas for E-coli and a huge cleanup operation ensued -- including the installation of new carpeting and the removal of some lockers in the visiting clubhouse to repair water-damaged walls with new sheet rock and wooden supports. In addition, new drywall was put in about a foot above the floor.
New cabinets were needed in the visiting training room, and a new dining table and vanity in the nearby umpires' room.
Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik considers the incidents separate. He is more concerned with playing baseball.
"It's a dated facility, what can you say?" Zduriencik said. "It's unusual. Very unusual. But they just didn't get the tarp down is what they said. They couldn't get the field ready. We'll see what happens. They said they'll work on it all night and what that means, we'll have to see. But they have a lot of work to do to get it ready."