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BISONS BATTLE NATURE FOR OPENER

Buffalo Bisons personnel spent Tuesday fighting off the weekend curve ball thrown by nature to get Dunn Tire Park ready for Thursday's season opener.

"It's always a challenge to get everything ready every time we open the season at home," General Manager Mike Buczkowski said. "Not just getting the field ready but getting the ballpark clean."

The equivalent of four inches of rain was dumped on the downtown ballpark in the form of slushy snow on Saturday and Sunday, just when head groundskeeper Kari Allen and her crew thought they were making some headway in drying out the field.

The heavy snow even collapsed a party tent in center field.

The primary job is to get the field playable so the 4:05 p.m. opener against the Richmond Braves can go off as scheduled.

"The first thing we had to do was to get the snow off the tarpaulin so we could remove it and let the air get at it," said Buczkowski. The sunny weather and 60-degree temperatures forecast for today will help, Buczkowski added.

Part of the field was still covered Tuesday evening while electric pumps were at work draining water in the outfield. There were patches of snow on the field and small piles against outfield fences. Also, there were large puddles on the warning track in right field.

It was the first day in Buffalo for third-year manager Marty Brown and his players. After a team meeting to go over housekeeping matters such as security, parking, housing and introductions of the front office staff, the players worked in the indoor batting cages. Later, players were able to go on the field for some catch while pitchers got their work in from the mounds in the visiting bullpen. The home bullpen mound was unusable.

"It's good to be back, but I wish we didn't have so much snow in the outfield," said Brown.

Buczkowski said around 12,000 tickets have been sold for the opener where Bills QB J.P. Losman will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"We're trying to decide whether we'll have him drop back or roll out and throw it," Buczkowski said.
e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com