Steady and sure-handed, Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is a confident mitt man.
But the Gold Glover didn’t feel that way this week, standing in the snow globe of PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
“I always want the ball to hit to me, but that was the one time where I was hoping it wouldn’t be hit my way,” Dozier said. “It would have been very tough trying to catch a popup in those conditions.”
From Yankee Stadium to Great American Ball Park to Comerica Park, the big winner so far this season is the wintry mix. Eight games already postponed amid a chilly spring, several others held in frosty settings.
Players and fans might not catch a break anytime soon, either. The weekend forecast in several spots is for weather better suited for throwing snowballs than pitching baseballs.
Snow is predicted at Coors Field in Denver, Nationals Park in Washington and the Bronx.
At Target Field in Minneapolis, there’s an outside chance Seattle and Minnesota could play the coldest game on record in major league history. The current mark is a first-pitch temperature of 23 degrees when Colorado hosted Atlanta in 2013.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said the heated benches and hot air blowers will help.
“Mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it shouldn’t matter,” he said.
Maybe, said Boston outfielder Mookie Betts.
It was barely above freezing at Fenway Park as he tried to limber up before Thursday’s home opener against Tampa Bay.
Everything is still on track for us to probably have the coldest home opener in the MLB this season. Temperatures will be in the 30s for the entire game and there is a good chance for light snow during the game. No more than 1" on the grass. #CBS4Mornings @LaurenCBS4 pic.twitter.com/NDlBs7LLSV— Ashton Altieri (@AshtonCBS4) 6 de abril de 2018
“It’s cold. You keep trying to play mind tricks, but it’s still 40 degrees. No matter how much you say ‘mind over matter,’ it still matters,” Betts said.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora wore three layers and a jacket for the game, which the AL East champions won 3-2 in 12 innings.
“It’s funny because it’s cold in April, but it’s never cold in October. And the weather is still cold in October. But it’s something about it in October we don’t care. And in April we do,” he said.
“Where are we shooting to go? It’s going to be cold in October. This is a dress rehearsal,” Cora said.
The season began on March 29 and marked the earliest start date in the majors, excluding special openers in international sites such as Japan and Australia.
As part of the labor agreement between players and owners, this season will span 187 days, instead of 183. That will allow for extra days off and more room to reschedule makeups. It also sets up for Game 7 of the World Series, if needed, to be played in October, rather than November.
Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn admits it’s tough to see games played in flurries and frigid conditions. He also said the additional four days off will benefit teams later in the spring and summer.
“It’s a part of the price to pay for that, I think,” he said. “Unless you’re going to push back the postseason, which I think is distasteful to a lot of people, or shorten the season, which is probably a long shot, I would say there’s probably not much we can do.”
As in, no going back to a 154-game schedule or adding in a bunch of doubleheaders.
MLB has tried to adjust the schedule in the past to have teams with warmer climates and indoor parks play first. A lot of them did open at home this year, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona, San Diego, Miami, Atlanta and more.
Looking at games postponed due to cold, snow and rain, I maintain my stance that April @MLB games should only take place out west, down south or in domes. Too many early season weather issues up north and Midwest. #Tigers #Yankees #Snow #MLB #Weather #NorthEast #Mets #Baseball pic.twitter.com/eaIoGDASOf— Rob Kelley (@RobKelley24) 4 de abril de 2018
But some openers are bound to be in New York, Kansas City and Detroit. Plus, not every club wants to begin with a week on the road.
The Tigers are playing their first 25 games in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Comerica Park.
“You’re not going to get me to criticize Major League Baseball. I’ve already seen my face enough on TV,” said Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected on opening day.
“I’m not a schedule-maker. I just let them do their thing,” he said. “We’ve always said it would be nice to start down South for the first week and play in better weather areas. Eventually, you’re going to have a home opener soon. Our folks don’t want to wait.”
In the meantime, players do their best to cope.