Players Would Have Preferred Rain Check
Brian Jordan made his point perfectly clear. Asked if he thought Friday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates should have been played in a steady rain, the Dodger left fielder replied, “No way. No way. No way.”
First baseman Fred McGriff called the conditions “brutal,” saying players were slipping on the soggy field and in the muddy batter’s box.
“It was unbelievable, but what can you say?” Jordan said. “The bottom line is the umpires and the grounds crew made the decision. I think it was real risky. It wasn’t worth it, win or lose.”
Both Jordan and McGriff shared the same sentiment, that Friday’s gate -- an Eric Gagne bobblehead giveaway helped attract a sellout crowd of 53,820 -- was a factor in the decision to play.
“I know it’s bobblehead night, but you don’t want to see guys get hurt,” McGriff said. “There was a big crowd.... I know how it works.”
Actually, the home team has jurisdiction in such matters only before the game; once lineup cards are exchanged, the decision to play or delay rests solely with the umpires. After a 16-minute delay, the game began in a light drizzle, and conditions worsened throughout the evening, which ended in a sloppy 5-3 Dodger loss.
“Even though the conditions weren’t ideal, the rain was not heavy enough to force us to leave the field, and the field didn’t deteriorate to the point where it would force us to leave,” crew chief Gerry Davis said. “Other than pitchers having to remove mud from their cleats, no one had any problems.”
Davis said he handled the situation Friday “the same way I would have if there were 5,000 people in the stands.” He based his decision on input from other umpires and the body language of players.
“I pay a lot of attention to the fielders to see if they have any extra problems, and I don’t think they did,” Davis said. “Even when it rained the hardest, some of the best plays were made.”
Manager Jim Tracy and several players praised groundskeeper Eric Hansen and his crew for making the best of the situation.
“You do get spoiled by having the best weather in baseball here,” second baseman Alex Cora said. “The conditions are part of the game. You have to deal with it.”
Jordan injured his left quadriceps when he pulled up between first and second on a sixth-inning fly ball Friday night and was doubled off first, but he was in the starting lineup Saturday night. “It’s messed up; there’s a knot in it,” Jordan said. “I slipped trying to stop, and it locked up. I won’t be hitting that extra gear [Saturday night].” ... Reliever Paul Shuey, out since April 25 because of a sprained ligament in his right knee, will throw in the bullpen -- wearing a knee brace -- for the first time since being injured. The right-hander is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday.