DENVER (AP) — Dick Monfort was quite formidable on the mound — of snow, that is.
Shovel in hand, the Colorado Rockies owner joined a crew of team employees helping to dig out snow-covered Coors Field, clearing the way for the Rockies and New York Mets to finally play ball.
This is one assignment that didn’t give him cold feet, just a sore back.
Well worth it, though, to try and squeeze in a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Tuesday. Although the game was scheduled to start at 5:10 p.m. EDT, first pitch had been pushed back two hours to finish clearing the field. At the scheduled game time, there were still piles of snow in front of the Rockies dugout and along the right-field line.
Now, there’s hardly a trace of snow around.
Monfort had plenty of company removing the snow, as vice president Bill Geivett — wearing a heavy Montreal Expos jacket — and chief baseball officer Dan O’Dowd also scooped snow off the turf as well.
Even Sandy Alderson, the GM for the Mets, pitched in on a bank of snow near the team’s dugout.
“It looks like they want to see a game today,” Monfort said.
Especially the Mets, who haven’t played since Saturday after having two straight games wiped out by weather. Wintry conditions in Minneapolis on Sunday forced the game against the Twins to be called off. The game Monday also was postponed due to a heavy spring snow storm passing through the area.
“We’re pretty tired of sitting at the hotel,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Everybody wants to get going. This is what they’re here for — to go out and play. To have two days in a row off is unheard of.”
Not that the players are overly thrilled about playing in chilly conditions.
And it definitely will be frigid.
The temperature for the afternoon game will be around 44 degrees. The second game of the doubleheader — still tentatively scheduled to start at 8:40 p.m. — will see the temperature dip into the 30s. The record game-time temp at Coors Field is 28 degrees on April 12, 1997, against Montreal.
“In general terms, the game wasn’t made to be played in conditions like this,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “It’s such a game of feel. It’s tough to execute certain aspects of the game in cold weather. That will be a challenge.”
Justin Turner has a plan to stay warm — keep near the heaters in the dugout. Being from Long Beach, Calif., he’s not used to this weather.
Although, he has the shaggy beard for it.
“I intentionally didn’t shave all spring training because I knew this first road trip was going to be pretty cold,” Turner said, laughing. “I don’t mind the cold. I just don’t like playing baseball in it.”
He still painfully remembers playing in the snow during a Single-A game in 2007.
“I got hit in the elbow and felt like it was shattered into a million pieces,” Turner said. “You just layer up and use hot packs, put them in your back pocket. The worst part is coming in and sitting in the dugout where the heaters are and then having to go back out where it’s freezing. You’ve just got to keep moving.”
The weather on Wednesday could be worse, with more snow expected.
Not that the starter that day, Jon Garland, minds too much.
“I’ll pitch anywhere if I’m getting outs,” said Garland, who’s finding his form after missing all of last year following shoulder surgery. “This weather is not comfortable by any means. For the most part, you’re out there miserable. It’s not fun at all.”
Simply wear more clothing?
“You don’t want to go out of the norm to where it’s comfortable for you to get that range of motion, get that fluid pitching,” Garland said. “But yeah, you try to layer up as much as you can.”