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ON BASEBALL

Another ball in play -- the weather

Including the six games postponed yesterday, there have been 21 postponements in the first two weeks of the baseball season.

No team has been more victimized than the Indians, who could not play four games against Seattle last week at Jacobs Field when it snowed to beat the band in the fair city of Cleveland. Then the Indians' series against the Angels last week had to be shifted to Milwaukee, where the stadium has a retractable roof. Even as they were playing at Miller Park Wednesday, a record 5.2 inches of snow was falling outside.

Where's Al Gore's global warming when we really need it?

Yesterday there was rain to deal with; a scheduled doubleheader at Pittsburgh against the Giants was washed out, as were Washington at New York, Houston at Philadelphia, Kansas City at Baltimore, and Angels-Red Sox.

"They should build a dome here and Cleveland and Chicago," quipped Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez.

Ah, we've been around the block with that one, Julian, to no avail.

Because of the nor'easter, yesterday's game was called shortly before 10 a.m., as Sox players trickled in to work out or just hang out. Tavarez met with manager Terry Francona in his office and was told he'd pitch Thursday in Toronto, a guaranteed start with the retractable roof of the Rogers Centre -- if this morning's game is played.

Sox officials announced late yesterday afternoon they are keeping today's 10:05 a.m. start, although they warn fans that the possibility of delays exists.

Weather is bum luck anyway, but the sputtering start to this season certainly made one long for the days when teams in northern cities played more on the West Coast or in domes early in the season. Some seasons the weather in April has been sunny all over, even balmy, but other years have been like the start to this season -- cold, rainy, and sometimes snowy.

The Red Sox probably want to play 'em all these days, because their starting rotation is on fire.

Josh Beckett, who is scheduled to start this morning, looks like a potential Cy Young Award candidate (although it's early), while the Angels' Ervin Santana has been brutal on the road in his short career -- 9-12 with a 6.65 ERA. The Angels have looked like a team that can't wait to get back to sunning and funning on Newport Beach in losing the first two games of the series, 10-1 and 8-0. They've looked every bit as cold and disinterested as the scores would indicate.

The Red Sox want to take advantage of this, knowing that when they face Los Angeles later in the year, the Angels are going to have Bartolo Colon and Jered Weaver back. Those two likely will go deep into games, which will bring on the Angels' better relievers -- Justin Speier, Scot Shields, and Frankie Rodriguez -- rather than the Darren Olivers they use when they're behind.

The Sox start a three-game series against a tough Blue Jays lineup tomorrow night, then return to Boston to play their first three-game set with the Yankees.

Tavarez is one of the players most affected by the weather. As the No. 5 starter, he hasn't pitched since April 7, when he took an 8-4 loss against the Texas Rangers. He lasted only four innings, allowing four earned runs and five walks. After he was skipped to accommodate an earlier rainout, he's not slated to pitch again until his Thursday start, a span of 12 days.

"I just do my running and go do my long toss," Tavarez said. "[Tomorrow] I'm going to throw on the side in Toronto and get ready for Thursday. It's a dome, so I'm gonna pitch.

"It doesn't bother me at all," he said. "We're in first place. We're winning. We're having some fun. We're not the only ones going through this weather. The Indians went through it also.

"The day I have to pitch I'll just put everything behind me and start over. But I'll be fine."

Tavarez rubbed snake oil on his shoulder as he headed out to throw a little bit. He didn't think the layoff would affect his mechanics because he's been through layoffs before.

"I never make excuses about mechanics or anything like that," he said. "I've always been a guy who's always focused on what I'm doing. I have confidence in what I have to do to be ready. I just do my thing to be out there and be ready to fight. I never go through things like I'm gonna do something different to start a game. As long as I'm healthy and not in pain, I'm fine."

Tavarez noted he's gone up to two weeks without pitching before, "But I go all winter without pitching and then I go to spring training and pitch. So it doesn't make any difference. It's all what you put in your mind. If you put in your mind, 'Oh, my God, it's 13 days since I pitched,' then you're going to have a tough time.

"You just have to be strong. It's mind over matter. If you put [doubts] in your mind, you're going to be in trouble."

Tavarez understands his role as fifth starter, that he occasionally will get skipped.

Not that it's easy, because pitchers enjoy a routine -- going every fifth day -- and any interruption always holds problems.

Yet he's sympathetic to the Indians, the team he started his career with.

"I appreciate the Indians because they brought me to the major leagues," he said. "They gave a lot to my family, my dad, my kids, and myself. I still live in Cleveland -- about 15 minutes from Jacobs Field. I love that city. They're going through a tough time. It doesn't make any difference if they don't play -- we don't play, either. It looks like it's happened to us, too.

"We're all going through a tough time right now."

Mr. Gore: Let the global warming begin.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com.

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