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Pirates battle the elements

| Sunday, April 8, 2007

CINCINNATI - Less than 12 hours after their loss to the Reds on Friday night, the Pirates arrived at the visiting clubhouse at Great American Ball Park on Saturday morning to find out that not much had changed.

It was still cold outside.

"It just comes with the territory when you play in this part of the country during the early part of the season," manager Jim Tracy said. "When you have good weather, it's a bonus."

Yesterday's game, originally scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m., was moved up to 1:05 because of an evening forecast of snow showers and temperatures in the 20s.

"I understand what they're trying to do," Tracy said about the time change. "You're running the risk of putting baseball players in harm's way. It was a wise decision for the benefit of both clubs."

Not that it was especially warm at game time. When Reds starter Aaron Harang threw the first pitch yesterday afternoon, the temperature was 30 degrees and the wind chill was 23.

The Reds are accustomed to the cold. They opened their season at home Monday against the Chicago Cubs in 70-degree weather. But since then, they've played four consecutive games with temperatures in the 30s.

After opening the season in Houston, the Pirates got their first taste Friday night, when it was 36 degrees at game time with a 26-degree wind chill.

Just how cold was it• It all depends on whom you ask.

"I didn't feel cold at all," starter Paul Maholm said.

On the other hand ...

"It was pretty tough," reliever Jonah Bayliss said.

As a native of Trail, British Columbia, left fielder Jason Bay has played in his fair share of cold-weather games. He said it can make a difference for a hitter.

"You're not loose," he said. "You're not comfortable up there. I don't think it necessarily helps the pitchers. But as a hitter, you're worried about getting jammed. You're just not comfortable."

Tracy said his biggest concern was injuries sustained from players not being loose.

"That's one of the things you have to keep in mind," he said. "If you're trying to beat out a chopper in freezing weather, you worry about quad injuries. That kind of thing has you sitting on the edge of your seat."

His point was driven home during Friday night's Indians-Mariners game in Cleveland. During the game - which was played in a snowstorm before eventually being postponed - Indians catcher Victor Martinez strained his left quadriceps while running to first base and is likely headed for the disabled list.

For at least one player, the frosty conditions in Cleveland made Cincinnati seem not so bad.

"On the cab ride home, I couldn't stop thinking about how cold it was," Bayliss said. "Then, I turned on "Baseball Tonight" and saw the Indians game and thought, 'Man, we got it good.' "

Additional Information:

Global cooling

A look at the game-time temperature for the Reds' first five home games this season:

Monday - 72 degrees

Wednesday - 39 degrees

Thursday - 35 degrees

Friday - 36 degrees

Saturday - 30 degrees

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