Tribe ready to weather Opening Day
Rain or shine, team excited about opening season at home
CLEVELAND -- The roster is set and the players are ready to go.The field, which took a beating throughout the winter, isn't in perfect shape -- but it still looks good. Progressive Field, the new name of the Indians' home, is adorned with bunting and banners. For the second year in a row, however, weather could be the story of the Indians' home opener. The Indians, coming off the American League Central title, are scheduled to open the 2008 season against the Chicago White Sox on Monday at 3:05 p.m. ET. The forecast calls for showers throughout the day. Told of the forecast, Indians third baseman Casey Blake said, "That's awesome." Memories of the 2007 home opener are still fresh in everyone's mind. Not only did a snowstorm postpone the game against Seattle, it wiped out the Indians' first homestand entirely and forced the team to move a three-game series to Milwaukee. Informed there would be no snow, Blake said, "I'm disappointed. I was looking forward to that." Yes, Blake, the Indians' master of the deadpan expression, was kidding about the weather. Whether it's still a laughing matter come game time remains to be seen. "There's nothing you can do about it," said Indians ace C.C. Sabathia, who will start the opener. "We've played in bad weather before. You deal with it the best you can." Both teams worked out at Progressive Field under cloudy skies and 40-degree temperatures on Sunday afternoon. "I don't expect it to be this nice," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "Nobody's smart enough to call the weather. Some people think they are, but nobody is smart enough to do it." Tuesday, scheduled as an off-day, will serve as the date for the backup opener, in case the teams can't play Monday. The Indians are starting the season at home for the first time since 2001. "I think everybody likes to start the season at home," Wedge said. "It means a great deal to us. Opening Day is very special." The Indians will send Sabathia, the league's defending Cy Young Award winner, against Mark Buehrle.
Spring training was an uneventful time for the Indians, a fact that surely pleased Wedge and general manager Mark Shapiro. There were no serious injuries and the roster was relatively easy to set."Nothing sticks out," Wedge said. "That's probably a good thing." White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has a lot of respect for the Indians. "Last season, the Indians were a team that wanted to kick your butt," Guillen said. "That's why they won. "From the first out of the game to the last out of the game, they wanted to kick your butt."
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.