CHICAGO -- White Sox head groundskeeper Roger Bossard started working on snow-covered Guaranteed Rate Field at 5:30 a.m. CT Monday morning to get ready for the 1:10 p.m. first pitch in the series opener against the Rays.And one of the preeminent figures in his field, if not a downright groundskeeping
CHICAGO -- White Sox head groundskeeper Roger Bossard started working on snow-covered Guaranteed Rate Field at 5:30 a.m. CT Monday morning to get ready for the 1:10 p.m. first pitch in the series opener against the Rays.
And one of the preeminent figures in his field, if not a downright groundskeeping genius, disposed of the snow by using mowers to remove it and water to melt it. Chicago water comes out at 48 to 50 degrees, per Bossard, and he employed it in 20-minute intervals as he cycled across the outfield to melt about 1 1/2 inches of snow in four to five hours.
As for the mowers' involvement … ?
"This is the first time I've ever done it," the always upbeat Bossard said. "In the past, if you have like four to six inches of snow, I've got a couple snowblowers that I'll use with that type of snow.
"Today I didn't need it. I came up with this. I tricked them again. It's not a plow. I literally used the mowers themselves. I didn't turn the mowers on, but I just pushed it with the mowers and it worked well. Every once in a while I come up with some crazy stuff. This time it worked."
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Bossard and his 23-man crew removed "200 to 300 tons" of snow, and even with light snow continuing on past noon, they make the conditions playable. Ultimately, it was just another bad weather situation for the White Sox during the first 10 days of the 2018 regular season.
"Again you just never know year to year," said White Sox veteran starting pitcher James Shields, who pitched the home opener this past Thursday. "There are some years in the beginning of April where it's 60 or 70 degrees and some where it's really cold. The weather is unpredictable. It is what it is and we have to play through it."
"All of us, I think at some point in time, have played in weather like this," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "It's an uncomfortable feeling, but it's kind of a little bit mind over matter."
Renteria remembered playing in a Minor League contest where the game-time temperature was below freezing. When asked if he enjoyed the challenge of that game, Renteria smiled and said, "I don't know anybody who enjoys playing in it."
Shields pointed to Game 5 of the 2008 World Series in Philadelphia when he was with the Rays as his worst weather memory. The game was suspended after the top of the sixth inning due to rain, with the Phillies finishing off the victory and the championship two days later.
"One thing I can remember is B.J. Upton sliding into second base and him getting completely covered in a whole puddle of water during the game," Shields said. "That was pretty cold out there.
"Then we were actually checking out that day because we were going back home for Games 6 and 7 and we had to drive 45 or 50 minutes to Delaware because there were no hotels available. It was all sold out. We ended up playing [two days later], which was just as cold but it wasn't raining. We ended up losing and that was the last game of the World Series."
Saturday's first-pitch temperature for the Tigers-White Sox contest in Chicago was 32 degrees, warming up to a balmy 36 on Sunday and checking in at 35 Monday. But many players felt the wind and snow flurries made Thursday's home opener worse, weather-wise.
Every effort was made to play Monday, as the Rays won't make another trip to Chicago. The Cubs canceled their home opener 11 miles away, but they had a built in off-day Tuesday, which boasts a vastly improved forecast. Bossard also admitted a little more snow fell at Wrigley.
"Disco Demolition, that was a horrific day for me. This wasn't near as bad as that," said Bossard with a laugh. "This was a heck of a challenge, and I've got to be honest with you. I got a hold of my crew when they came in at 7 o'clock, and I wanted to get this thing done. I love the challenge, and we made it thanks to my crew. You're only as good as your crew."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.