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Mariners share story of bumpy flight to Texas

Club's players, staff thankful to arrive safely

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Dustin Ackley once was treated to a thrill ride in a Black Hawk helicopter by a pilot over Tokyo during a tour of a U.S. Army base during the Mariners' visit to Japan in 2012, so he's experienced some craziness in the air.

But Ackley said that heart-in-throat memory had nothing on the team's turbulent arrival to Dallas in its charter plane early Monday morning as the Mariners started a 10-day road trip by dodging thunderstorms in Texas.

"That was different," Ackley said of his Black Hawk helicopter experience, which he and former teammate Justin Smoak shared during the Japan tour. "That one you kind of knew what was coming. This one, you didn't know what was in store, so it was pretty intense."

After a turbulent flight and a late-night diversion to San Antonio, the Mariners arrived at Love Field in Dallas at about 3:30 a.m. CT on Monday and didn't get to their hotel until close to 5 a.m.

The Mariners were scheduled to arrive in Dallas around midnight CT after losing an 11-inning, 4-2 game to the Twins at Safeco Field on Sunday afternoon, but one attempt at landing in Dallas was aborted and the plane was sent to San Antonio -- about 280 miles to the south -- to refuel and wait for the weather to clear.

The team and traveling party spent about two hours on the runway at San Antonio before being allowed to make the bumpy flight back to Dallas, where they finally touched down at 3:25 a.m. with a landing that had the plane lurching first with one wing up and then the other just before the pilot straightened things out at the last second.

"That was cool because I didn't know we were actually that close to the ground," said first baseman Logan Morrison. "When we did this move and then that move, I was like, 'Woah, that was weird.' Then we hit the ground like two seconds later. If I'd have known we were that close to the ground, I'd have probably freaked out. But I didn't, because I was trying not to care."

"Worst flight ever. #thankGoditsover" tweeted outfielder Justin Ruggiano.

Broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith tweeted that "the team pilot earned a merit badge tonight."

And pitcher Taijuan Walker, scheduled to start Monday night's game, offered a simple "Wooo" on his Twitter account.

Right fielder Nelson Cruz was happy to be back in Texas, where he still owns a home in Arlington. But getting that first abbreviated night in his old bed came at a price.

"That was very scary," Cruz said. "The landing was kind of rough. The wings of the plane were almost touching the ground. It was crazy. But it was a good landing. The pilot was pretty good. I told him, 'Good job.' We survived. That's the good part."

As manager Lloyd McClendon said, "Any flight you can talk about was a good flight."

But the skipper gave his team extra time to sleep in Monday as he canceled pregame batting practice. The Rangers also had travel issues as they were diverted to Austin on their flight home from Anaheim before finally getting cleared back into Dallas at about 4 a.m. CT.

The teams were scheduled to begin a three-game series Monday at 5:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park. While the weather in Arlington cleared Monday morning, the forecast called for more thunderstorms Monday evening, with rain projected through Tuesday afternoon.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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