CLEVELAND (AP) — David Price’s debut for Boston was put on ice — literally.
Mother Nature threw the only shutout on opening day.
With temperatures in the 30s and dropping, the Cleveland Indians postponed their season opener against the Red Sox on Monday and pushed it back until Tuesday when the forecast isn’t looking a whole lot warmer.
Despite Indians manager Terry Francona’s assertion that “we’re going to play” an hour or so earlier, the Indians announced the postponement about two hours before the scheduled first pitch as thousands of fans huddled outside the gates of Progressive Field dressed as if they were headed to a Browns game.
The opener will be made up Tuesday with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 p.m. The forecast is for partly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 36. Better, but not by much.
Before the postponement, Price said his fingers got numb after he went on the field to throw. As he played catch, a light snow fell inside the ballpark.
“It was coming down pretty good,” said Price, who signed a seven-year, $217 million free agent contract in December. “It feels like 17 (degrees) out there, that’s how people get hurt. I’ve pitched in the snow before and it didn’t go as well as I would have liked. We knew playing today was kind of 50-50. I’ll be ready tomorrow.”
Price will oppose Indians ace and fellow former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, hoping to bounce back from a 16-loss season in 2015.
Earlier, Francona was positive the teams would bundle up and play. He even cracked a few jokes about the frigid conditions.
“We realize it’s not balmy out there,” he said. “There’s not going to be a lot of need for sunscreen. We’re here, the fans are coming and it’s not going to rain.”
Although it wasn’t raining or snowing, the forecast called for colder weather toward evening and the Indians decided to make the change. When the postponement was announced over the ballpark’s new sound system, thousands of fans turned and either headed home or two downtown bars after waiting patiently to get inside.
The Indians released a statement explaining the decision.
“Today’s game was postponed due to the forecast changing from no precipitation to having precipitation most of the afternoon and into early evening,” the club said. “That steady precipitation forecast combined with wind chills dropping into the teens, it was decided by both teams and umpires for fan comfort and player safety to postpone the game. Tomorrow’s forecast will continue to be cold, but no anticipated precipitation.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell, back in Boston’s dugout after a cancer scare last season, said putting Price on the mound would have been risky.
“I don’t think anybody wants to start and stop, particularly when you’re sending your No. 1 starter out there for the first time in a Red Sox uniform,” Farrell said. “This way, based on the weather report, we have a chance to go out there uninterrupted tomorrow.”
The last time the Indians postponed their season opener was in 2007, when a snowstorm wiped out a four-game series against Seattle. The Indians instead opened the season in Milwaukee against the Los Angeles Angels and made up the postponements against the Mariners throughout the season.
That year, the Indians went a league-best 96-66 and went to the AL Championship Series before losing to Boston in seven games.
Farrell was reluctant to make too much out of his comeback. He missed the final two months last season to receive medical treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt lymphoma.
“I don’t know if it’s any more emotional,” said Farrell, who pitched for the Indians and worked in their front office. “It’s got a different significance, but I don’t know if that becomes driven by emotion. It’s personal experiences that you go through. It’s in a town where I’ve worked and lived a long period of my adult life here. The fact is, it’s opening day. Above and beyond all else, that’s the most exciting part of this.”
Red Sox: Price will be the first Boston pitcher to make his Red Sox debut in the opener since David Wells in 2005. The left-hander went a combined 18-5 last season for Detroit and Toronto.
Indians: Kluber will be making his second straight opening day start. He lost in Houston last season, the first of many outings in which he pitched well and the Indians didn’t score. The 2014 Cy Young winner recorded 245 strikeouts last season.