Giants & A’s

Matt Kawahara, Bay Area baseball beat writer

Oakland A’s pre-game notes: The clouds break on opening night

03/31/2014 6:31 PM

03/31/2014 6:32 PM

A’s manager Bob Melvin said this afternoon that forecasts called for a break in the rain between 5 and 9 p.m. Lo and behold, right around 5:30 p.m., the sun broke through and we’re currently looking at blue skies (with some clouds) over O.co Coliseum, where the grounds crew just pulled the tarp off the infield.

Whether the game starts on time is a matter of two things -- the rain continuing to hold off and the conditions of the field. Some areas of the outfield just at the edge of the tarp are looking pretty wet, but they’re trying to work that water into foul ground. At about 4 p.m., Melvin said the field conditions were not as bad as they were Saturday, when the field was "literally unplayable." So there’s that.

Regardless of when this game does get going, Melvin said he doesn’t intend to try to outwit nature by having a reliever ready to start, thereby saving Sonny Gray from an outing that could potentially be delayed or shortened by rain. Gray will start the game. No announcements have been made about a delay, so we’re still looking at 7:05 p.m.

The A’s want to get this game in. For one thing, it’s a sellout. For another, they haven’t played since Friday after the last game of the Bay Bridge series was rained out. Melvin pointed out he doesn’t want his players having too many days between games, and the forecast for tomorrow is -- again -- wet.

As for whether rain tonight could dampen the festive Opening Day atmosphere, Melvin said that depends. "If the introductions and so forth were wiped out, maybe it takes away a little bit of the excitement. But my guess is it’s still going to be a pretty full house."

Some fans have already filed in, many wearing ponchos and looking bundled up pretty tightly. Pre-game stuff is supposed to get underway at 6:38 p.m., with introductions of the Cleveland Indians, so we’ll have a better idea then whether things are on time.

For now, here are the starting lineups, first for the A’s behind Gray:

CF Crisp
3B Donaldson
SS Lowrie
1B Moss
LF Cespedes
C Jaso
RF Reddick
1B Barton
2B Sogard

And for the Indians, who start right-hander Justin Masterson on the mound:

CF Morgan
1B Swisher
2B Kipnis
3B Santana
LF Brantley
DH Raburn
SS Cabrera
RF Murphy
C Gomes
• Melvin said he could still flip Moss and Cespedes against right-handers, but doing it this way allows him to break up his right-handed hitters more and provides cushion for Moss before getting to the all-lefty 6-through-9 spots.
• Today’s exhibition game between the Triple-A River Cats and Single-A Stockton Ports, in which A’s reliever Ryan Cook was scheduled to pitch, was cancelled due to weather. But Melvin said Cook was still able to throw a simulated inning earlier in the day.

"I didn’t hear the results, but I heard he felt good," Melvin said of Cook, who is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Saturday.

• The A’s are scheduled to face just one left-hander in the season’s first week, limiting opportunities for the right-handed players in their platoons such as catcher Derek Norris and infielders Alberto Callaspo and Nick Punto. Melvin, though, said he intends to "get everybody involved in the first there or four days."
• Melvin said he kept an eye Monday on instances of replay being used around MLB. His takeaway: "It’s continuing to look like the closer plays won’t be overturned. … Even if it doesn’t look like a sure thing, maybe those are the ones you go after. But there’s still a lot left to be learned about it."

About This Blog

Matt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at mkawahara@sacbee.com. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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