OAKLAND -- Friday night’s game between the A’s and Mariners was postponed due to the O.co Coliseum infield being unplayable following overnight rains.
The A’s made the announcement around 7:25 p.m., after first saying the game had been delayed while the Coliseum grounds crew worked on the infield dirt. No makeup date has been scheduled for the game, but it will not be played this weekend.
David Rinetti, vice president of stadium operations at the Coliseum, said the protective tarp was left off the field overnight in hopes that a break in this week’s rainy weather -- the A’s had their first home rainout since May 1998 on Tuesday -- would help dry out the field.
"We had information last night that there was going to be a break in the storm," Rinetti said. "Unfortunately we were wrong on the amount of rain, and we got about a third of an inch of rain last night. … We got here this morning and the infield was under water."
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Rinetti said the forecast information came from a "weather consultant" that stadium staff has consulted before. He said grounds crews "did everything possible starting at 7 a.m. to get the field ready for tonight," but, "after we met with the managers and umpires it was deemed that the field was not going to be ready to be played on tonight."
A short burst of rain fell on the Coliseum around 4:35 p.m. today, but at that time the tarp was covering the field. As game time neared, crews continued to work on the infield dirt, spreading "Turface" in an attempt to soak up excess water, while both teams’ managers conferred with umpires and stadium staff on the field. Batting practice had been cancelled for both teams earlier in the afternoon, and neither team came out for pre-game warmups.
Umpiring crew chief Fieldin Culbreth told the Associated Press that the infield was "very soft and probably just not playable for the standards of not only the game itself and the product you want on the field for a big-league level game, but more importantly for the health of the people who were going to be involved.
"In the end, I think the powers that be made the correct decision."
When the postponement was announced over the PA system, it was met with loud boos from fans inside the stadium. A’s players began filing out of the clubhouse shortly thereafter, with several commenting on the oddness of the situation.
"Ridiculous," said one.
"I’ve seen it all now," said another.
A’s general manager Billy Beane said of the postponement: "It was an unfortunate misinterpretation of the forecast."
It marked the third weather-related cancellation of a game for the A’s in a week. Along with Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians -- which was made up Wednesday as part of a day-night doubleheader -- the final game of the exhibition Bay Bridge Series between the A’s and San Francisco Giants was cancelled due to rain last Saturday.
"To have the amount of rain that we’ve had this week, considering we’re in a drought here, is pretty surprising," Rinetti said. "Obviously we need the rain. But this is the most amount of rain that we’ve had in an opening since I’ve been here, and that’s 34 years."
Rinetti said grounds crews are "doing everything possible to have the field ready to be played on tomorrow." Saturday’s game between the A’s and Mariners is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Making up the game this weekend as part of a doubleheader either Saturday or Sunday was an option, but the decision came down to a player vote, with A’s manager Bob Melvin saying "both sides were in agreement we should play one tomorrow."
The A’s will push back today’s starter Dan Straily to start Saturday’s game. The Mariners will go with their previously scheduled Saturday starter, right-hander Felix Hernandez.
Melvin said when he was walking around the infield before the cancellation, "It was just a little soft in the infield at short and second. … I think everybody felt it was at the point where we were concerned about it being a little too soft, and how long it was going to take to get it to where we felt like it was playable."
The two postponements have made it difficult for the A’s to settle into a routine during the first week of the season. Third baseman Josh Donaldson acknowledged as much, but said: "You’ve got to adapt. It’s a long season. It’s only been four games."
Rinetti was asked if he was "embarrassed" by Friday’s cancellation.
"I’m not embarrassed," he said. "I know that our staff really works hard and puts their heart and soul into it. Everyone takes it seriously. It’s very difficult that we had to cancel the game tonight."