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Soggy field conditions postpone game in Oakland

Makeup date anticipated during future Mariners trip to Coliseum

OAKLAND -- Weird things seem to happen when the Mariners visit Coliseum, and that trend continued Friday when a night game with the A's was postponed by poor infield conditions even though rains had subsided by the scheduled first pitch of 7:05 PT.

The game will be made up later in the season when the Mariners return to Oakland, either in May or September, with general manager Jack Zduriencik suggesting the likelihood of a day-night doubleheader during the May 5-7 visit.

The two teams are still set to face off Saturday as scheduled at 1:05 p.m., with the Mariners skipping Friday starter Chris Young and going with Felix Hernandez, who already was slated to pitch Saturday. The A's will go with right-hander Dan Straily, who was scheduled to pitch Friday night.

Heavy rain soaked the stadium overnight Thursday when the infield wasn't protected by a tarp, and despite efforts by the A's grounds crew, the two clubs decided not to play after determining conditions weren't safe.

"The field is not playable, that's for sure," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It's very soft. Probably the worst conditions I've seen in all my years in baseball. It was just not safe for the players. It was just a safety issue more than anything. I think they made the right decision."

McClendon said his foot sank about 2 inches into the sod when he walked across the infield turf as officials studied the situation, and he wondered if it would be ready even by Saturday.

"I really am not sure," McClendon said. "It's that bad out there."

The Mariners dealt with a backed-up sewer in their clubhouse last year during a June visit to Oakland's outdated facility, a situation that flared up again during the postseason last year and once this spring. The main elevator to the press box also stopped working several times during a Mariners series late last season.

But raining out a game when it wasn't raining was a new situation. A's officials said a weather consultant told them no rain was expected Thursday night, so they left the infield uncovered overnight.

"It's unusual. Very unusual," Zduriencik said. "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 [by Saturday]."

The A's have been pushing for a new facility in the Bay Area in recent years without any resolution. Zduriencik acknowledged the problems his club has encountered in the Coliseum, but said they're not unique to the Mariners.

"I'm sure we're not the only club that has gone through issues here," he said. "Certainly with the sewer backing up last year, I understand they had that already one time this year. It's a dated facility. What can you say?"

McClendon first learned of the situation when he arrived at 12:30 p.m. Friday and was told his team couldn't take batting practice or do early work on the field, but he was surprised, like everyone else, when the game itself was postponed about 10 minutes after the scheduled first pitch.

McClendon said he and A's manager Bob Melvin were in agreement on the postponement, as was the umpire crew.

David Rinetti, the A's vice president of stadium operations, said heavy rain over the past week in Oakland had resulted in the field taking "a significant hit," with Thursday night's downpour pushing it over the edge.

"We had information last night that there was going to be a break in the storm," Rinetti said. "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. We did not have the tarp on the field.

"We got here this morning, the infield was under water, and we did everything possible starting at 7 a.m. to get the field ready for tonight," he said. "Our grounds crew worked tirelessly to get the field ready, and unfortunately, after we met with the managers and the umpires, it was deemed that the field was not going to be ready to play on tonight."

Zduriencik declined to get into the A's facility issue, other than how it affected his club.

"We're worried about playing baseball games and winning baseball games," he said. "That's what our biggest concern is right now."

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