DENVER -- Welcome to springtime in the Rockies.
Instead of wildflowers blooming and robins chirping, the Atlanta Braves were greeted by a blizzard Friday, which forced the cancellation of the opener of a three-game series against the Rockies at Coors Field.
It was Atlanta's first snowout since April 11, 1997 in Chicago and coupled with Thursday's rainout in Philadelphia, gave the Braves their first consecutive weather-related cancellations since rain forced postponement of consecutive games in St. Louis April 27-28, 1994.
As a result, the Braves will lose a day off when they return to Colorado in August. The game will be made up on Thursday, Aug. 19 at 1:05 p.m., which was an off day for both teams.
"I used to love playing in the snow as a kid," said reliever Kevin McGlinchy, who grew up in Malden, Massachusetts. "It brings out good memories."
The snow brought out the little boy in several players. Derrin Ebert lay on his back near the dugout and made a snow angel, Javy Lopez threw snowballs, and Curacao native Randall Simon got up a head of steam and slid across the white grass.
John Smoltz was smiling in the clubhouse, because the snowout eliminated his Sunday start at hitter-friendly Coors. Tom Glavine, working on a week's rest, will face Darryl Kile in this afternoon's game, then Greg Maddux will work against Pedro Astacio Sunday afternoon.
"I'd prefer to get back out there sooner rather than later," Glavine said. "But the worst thing would be to go out and start the game and then get banged and lose it altogether."
With the rotation pushed back for a second straight day, Smoltz will pitch the opener of the three-game series against the Dodgers Monday, Kevin Millwood will work Tuesday night, and Odalis Perez will go Wednesday night.
With snow coating the field and the wind chill in the 20s, there weren't any players who took Friday's cancellation too hard. The forecast for today calls for temperatures in the 50s, which may leave the field a bit soggy.
"(Cold weather) is not fun to play in," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "It makes it kind of hard to swing a bat with any authority or catch any kind of ball with any velocity. It's just a miserable time to play."
The days off are a blessing in disguise for Lopez, who's recovering from a sore back, and first baseman Ryan Klesko, who has a strained hamstring. It also gives several struggling hitters extra time to work with hitting coach Don Baylor.
"We want to play, but in the same sense we've got guys who are a little tender right now and it gives them time to rest," Jones said. "Guys who are struggling, it gives them time to take a step back and straighten things out."
Klesko thinks he can stay off the disabled list, although the high hamstring strain in his right leg may keep him out for up to 10 days.
"Hopefully it's a week to 10 day thing," he said, "and not a three-week thing. I don't know how long it will be because I've never had a high hamstring pull."
Thanks to rain in Philadelphia and snow in Denver, Lopez has been able to rest his sore back for two days. He indicated Friday he feels fine, and would have been back in the lineup had the game been played.
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