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Lucchino on the rainout

Posted by Amalie Benjamin  April 6, 2009 02:54 PM

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Larry Lucchino stopped by the field earlier to discuss the reasons the Red Sox postponed today's game in the fashion they did. Before 10 a.m. this morning, Lucchino and the Sox had announced that they would be playing their Opening Day game with the Rays tomorrow at, officially, 4:06 p.m. (Note: That game time is not by accident, of course.)

"We met earlier this morning and made the decision to postpone until tomorrow for two or three basic reasons," Lucchino said. "One is the weather forecasts were consistently dire. Not just our own weather service, but five or six others that we consulted with and the networks and all that. It was going to start around noon gently and just get worse and worse all day. The probabilities of getting an official game in, much less a complete game, were very remote, if not impossible.

"Because we had Tuesday, we decided to slide to Tuesday and because it was Opening Day, we thought we should let people know as soon as possible given the special arrangements people make for Opening Day."

There is a tendency for the Sox to wait until well after the gates have opened, and well after beer and concession sales have begun, to postpone games despite bad weather. But the Sox didn't wait on this one. They called it early, though not early enough for New Englanders who had already called in sick or taken a vacation day to head down to Fenway Park.

If you're not happy about that, well, David Ortiz agrees with you.

"It's bad," he said, about the team waiting to call games. "When they bang the game this early because they know what's going on, they know something really bad is coming and it's going to be a waste. That's why we had the day off in between, so you can carry over when something like this is going on. Nobody can do anything against Mother Nature.

"It happened -- what year was that? -- we have snow and rain and all that stuff and they end up banging the game after people were here for a while. I don't think it's fair."

Lucchino added that, despite the beautiful weather yesterday, New England isn't exactly a great place to kick off the season in early April.

"It's very unpredictable," he said, "and our preference will be to open on the road and get the extra week of time for the weather to come around in New England."

As for that start time, in a nod to Ted Williams, the Sox decided to begin tomorrow's game at 4:06 p.m. But that wasn't the only reason.

"We wanted to give people an opportunity to reschedule if they got out of work," Lucchino said. "Maybe the extra couple hours might enable them to reschedule to come back. Kids who might have been coming today because they were getting out of school could at least see the game on television tomorrow after school. So it was an effort to enable people to rejuggle their schedule and perhaps get some of the fun of Opening Day tomorrow."

It marks the first Red Sox' first postponement of a home opener since 2003, when the game was called because of rain. It is the first time the Red Sox have opened their season at home since 2002. Lucchino indicated during an interview with sports radio WEEI this morning that the club prefers starting on the road.

"We prefer to open on the road for a couple of reasons," Lucchino said. "One, of course, is the weather. The other is we're annually engaged in offseason renovations and having the extra week or 10 days or so is helpful to us. But baseball generally accommodates us on this."

Some Rays made a note that it was surprising for the defending AL champions to start on the road. Rays manager Joe Maddon agreed with the decision to call the game early, but said, "I know the weather's good at the Tropicana Dome."

The Red Sox did manage to get in a long workout after the game was postponed.

"You hate to work for two months and then sit around for three days," said manager Terry Francona.

Both of today's scheduled starters -- Josh Beckett for the Sox and James Shields for the Rays -- will take the mound tomorrow. It is Beckett's first Opening Day start in four seasons with the Sox, as well as a pitching rematch of Game 6 of the 2008 ALCS, a 4-2 Red Sox win.

* * *

Seal was to sing the National Anthem today, but will not be able to do so tomorrow because of a previous commitment. Maestro Keith Lockhart and members of the Boston Pops along with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will instead perform the Anthem, as well as "God Bless America" and "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was reportedly going to be on hand to deliver the ceremonial first pitch today, and the Sox are still hopeful he can do so tomorrow.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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