Published March 31, 2011
CLEVELAND – As part of their final preseason workout, a few of the White Sox built a snowman. Others had a snowball fight.
And Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen, never one to bite his tongue, warmed up for opening day by offering his thoughts about starting the season in frigid Cleveland.
He's not a fan.
"Very stupid," the always opinionated Guillen said. "Nothing against Cleveland. We expect that. When you play in Cleveland on opening day ... a couple of years ago they canceled like 30 games here. But we are here, and we have to play through snow."
Fortunately, snow is not in the forecast for Friday, when the Indians and White Sox open the 2011 season at Progressive Field. There's even a chance the sun may peak through by the time Cleveland's Fausto Carmona throws the first pitch.
The teams were forced to take batting practice in the indoor cages on Thursday because the field was still covered in several inches of snow, the remnants of a late spring storm that dumped on Cleveland, which hasn't been able to shake itself free from a relentless winter.
The ballpark's groundscrew spent most of the day shoveling and hauling away snow. By 6 p.m., only a trace of the white stuff remained in left field.
Guillen said playing in extreme conditions is just part of being a major leaguer.
"You want to play in nice weather? Sign with the NBA, you play indoors and you are fine," he said. "You play baseball, you will play in rain, snow, (heat) and (humidity). Don't make that as an excuse. I don't expect my players making any excuses or complaining about it. That's a no-no for us. We know it's cold. We all know that. That's two teams out there battling."
Indians manager Manny Acta was confident the field would be in good condition by game time. The grass at Progressive Field was replaced this winter after the ballpark hosted "Snow Days," where fans could slide down a tubing hill and ice skate.
Acta said it was good that his team had a few days in Ohio to get reacquainted with the cold after training in Arizona, where temperatures were in the 90s last week. On Wednesday, the Indians played an exhibition game in Columbus that was canceled after two innings because of snow and unsafe field conditions.
The drastic change could lead to injuries, but Acta said there's not much that can be done.
"You worry about it (injuries)," he said, "but it's no different for the other club. It helped that we already started playing here in this type of weather. That helps a little bit. You just keep your fingers crossed and you go hard at it."