Some of Torey Lovullo's California optimism showed on Wednesday as he discussed the Buffalo Bisons' season starting today. If only the weather forecast was as hopeful.
The Bisons' 122nd season is scheduled to begin at 3:05 p.m. today at Dunn Tire Park if the weather obliges. Today's forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of light snow and temperatures below freezing through Sunday, which places the four-game series with the Richmond Braves in doubt.
"We're hoping that the conditions are playable," said Michael Buczkowski, the Bisons' vice president/general manager. "It doesn't look good, but we'll have to wait and see. If temperatures don't get above freezing the snow's not going to melt. Obviously you can't play with snow on the field."
But Lovullo is moving forward as planned. Right-hander Adam Miller, the Cleveland Indians' top prospect according to Baseball America, will start today and is No. 1 in the pitching rotation followed by Brian Slocum, Rafael Perez, Jeff Harris and Jason Stanford.
"We're anticipating a game, we're going full bore that something's going to break up enough for us to get out there," said Lovullo, a native of California. "Until that time, we're not going to change a thing. Adam Miller is our guy and if there's a weather issue we'll regroup and figure it out. If we get rained out [today], Adam will start on Friday as well."
If the Bisons can't open this afternoon, they will play a doubleheader on Friday which is tentatively scheduled to begin at 4:05 p.m. If today and Friday's game are called, the Bisons will play doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday but if the series is postponed, the games will be made up when the Bisons play in Richmond June 9-12.
International League teams are only allowed to play doubleheaders on back-to-back days and three during a seven-day period, so an entire series could not be made up during a four-day series in Richmond. The June series is the only other time the two teams play each other.
"That's happened before, but not this early in the season, it's usually a late-season thing," Buczkowski said. "They only come here once and we go there once so there isn't a lot of opportunity to make the games up."
Moving the series, perhaps to Rochester or Syracuse, isn't an option because both cities also have weather concerns. In 1998, Syracuse and Buffalo played an entire playoff series in Dunn Tire Park after a tornado hit Syracuse. In 2004, the Governors' Cup Finals were played at Dunn Tire because a hurricane hit the Richmond area.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Buffalo Police Department officer Carl Andolina will each toss a ceremonial first pitch. The Bisons will wear COPP hats for the pregame lineup on the field. After the national anthem, the players will each autograph their hat to be auctioned off during the game. All proceeds will go to Community Outreach for Patty Parete, Andolina's partner who was wounded in the line of duty last December.