CLEVELAND -- The Indians will play their 2007 home opener in Milwaukee. You read that right. In the latest and most peculiar in a long line of bizarre twists and turns in the life of the Tribe these past few days, the club announced Monday afternoon that it will have to move its three-day, home series against the Angels to the retractable roof comforts of Miller Park in Milwaukee.
"We're off the charts now," manager Eric Wedge said. "We're rolling with it and making the best of the situation." This is only the second time in the expansion era (since 1961) that weather has forced Major League games to move to a new location, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The first was on Sept. 13-14, 2004, when an impending hurricane off the coast of Florida caused the Marlins and Expos to move their series from Miami to Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field. Persistent snow in the Cleveland area this weekend left more than 10 inches of powder on the ground at Jacobs Field, postponing an entire four-game series against the Mariners. Attempts to get Friday's home opener completed fell one strike short in the top of the fifth inning, and doubleheaders scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday were all snowed out. Makeup dates for the four games against the Mariners have not yet been set, though the mutual off-day of June 11 looks to be a likely candidate. It's also possible at least one of the games could be made up in Seattle, when the Indians travel there the last week of the regular season. "Nothing's been decided yet," Wedge said. "It's something the Players' Association and the union has to OK." Fans with tickets to the Mariners or Angels series can exchange them for any other home date on the Tribe's schedule. The heavy snow in Cleveland appears to have dissipated, but the field conditions remain unplayable. Grounds-crew members worked from 6 a.m. ET into the afternoon to clear the field off with bulldozers, snow plows and shovels, but the damp ground underneath was an injury concern. "Considering the combination of the weather forecast, the playing conditions at Jacobs Field, fan comfort issues and a concern about the length of inactivity for our players," said Indians president Paul Dolan, "a change of venue for the three-game series is the most logical option. We would like to thank Major League Baseball and the ownership groups for both the Angels and Brewers for their support during this unique situation." Players arrived at the ballpark Monday hoping to get in at least one game against the Mariners, but were soon informed to start packing their bags for an unexpected road trip. The team was scheduled to fly out of Cleveland on Monday night, apparently with no hard feelings. "It's not something you can get too caught up in," Wedge said. "It is what it is. You can't complain about it. It doesn't matter if it's fair or not. All we can do is focus on getting to Milwaukee and being prepared to play. At least we know we're going to be able to go there and play and give [the grounds crew] a chance to get the field ready to play." Left-hander C.C. Sabathia will start opposite right-hander Ervin Santana in Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET series opener. On Wednesday, right-hander Jake Westbrook will oppose left-hander Joe Saunders, also at 7:05 p.m. And on Thursday, in a 1:05 p.m. game, left-hander Jeremy Sowers will get the start against right-hander Dustin Moseley. The Indians are expecting the field conditions to be cleared up in time to play their regularly scheduled home series against the White Sox, beginning Friday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Fausto Carmona will start that game. Whereas home openers in Cleveland are always a hot ticket, it's doubtful many fans will be in attendance for the neutral-site series. But the tickets are pretty inexpensive, at $10 a pop. The gates at Miller Park will open one hour before each game, and seating will be limited to the field and loge levels. Milwaukee wasn't the only option the Indians and Angels considered when talking about a move. On Sunday, the two clubs were floating the idea of moving the series to Anaheim, though that would have presented the logistical concern of having the Tribe make a cross-country flight on short notice and the Angels making a cross-country flight Thursday night for a scheduled Friday game in Boston. Playing the series in Houston's Minute Maid Park was another possibility, but Milwaukee won out. "On a Sunday and on a [Easter] holiday," said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' vice president of public relations, "to get it done in the time we did was really cool." The Brewers, who were set to begin a three-game series at Florida on Monday, had no problem offering up their facility. "We were contacted by the Indians about the potential of moving the series to Miller Park, and we told them that we had no hesitation in accommodating their request," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers executive vice president of business operations. "The retractable roof here gives us great flexibility and allows us to host events in comfort, regardless of the conditions outside." The Indians have to be rather envious of the roof proposition, given what they've been through the past few days. And the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the scheduling concern that got the Indians in this predicament. These were the only scheduled visits to Cleveland for Seattle and Los Angeles, making the postponements of this past weekend all the more troublesome and the need to get the Angels series in all the more pressing. "You talk about the computers spitting it out, and everybody's trying to do the best job they can, when it comes to the schedule," Wedge said. "It's an imperfect process, at best, because there are too many teams and too much geography. But I'm sure this will generate future conversation."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.