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Happy Herd shakes off the rust

For four straight days they came to the ballpark wondering if they were going to get a chance to play ball.

On Sunday, manager Torey Lovullo met with the team and gave them explicit instructions -- they were going to play on Monday. Be ready.

After losing the entire front end of the season-opening homestand to cold weather and snow, the Buffalo Bisons finally got their game on Monday, earning an 8-3 win over the Ottawa Lynx at Dunn Tire Park.

"I credit Torey with really getting us ready to play," Bison third baseman Keith Ginter said. "The past few days you come to the park pretty much expecting not to play and he told us Sunday to be ready. We were going to play [Monday]."

It got to be a bit difficult on the players and staff as the team waited around for the weather to break long enough to play a baseball game. The Bisons hadn't played since March 31 -- their last exhibition game of the spring in Winter Haven, Fla.

"It's tough when you don't see live pitching for 10 days," Lovullo said. "You really need to get them ready mentally. It's tough not to be distracted by the elements. It's about trying to keep the guys focused."

The emphasis worked as the team quickly settled into an offensive groove. Through the first three innings, the Bisons had 11 hits and seven runs.

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The Bisons are 13-7 in home openers in the 20-year history of Dunn Tire Park. Last season, the Herd defeated the Columbus Clippers, 10-1, on April 14 in their home opener.

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The Lynx are scheduled to be in town for the next three days. They are in the first of a two-year player development contract with the Philadelphia Phillies but their last year in the Canadian capital. Next year they will move to Allentown, Pa.

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The Indians have signed catcher Amid Haad to a minor league contract and assigned him to Buffalo. He will take the spot of Mike Rose, who is with Cleveland and expected to be placed on the Tribe's roster to replace the injured Victor Martinez. Haad was a spring invitee with Tampa Bay. He owns a career minor league batting average of .250 with 69 homers and 322 runs batted in through 821 games since beginning in 1995 in the Pirates organization. Dave Wallace, who caught Monday's game, is expected to get the bulk of the duties behind the plate for Buffalo.

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Buffalo Sabres mania has hit the ballpark. Sabretooth was on hand with mascots Buster, Chip and Belle.

Larry Playfair, the former Sabres defenseman and current director of alumni relations, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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The two teams will play at 1:05 p.m. today though Thursday. Scheduled to pitch for the Herd are Brian Slocum (R), Rafael Perez (L) and Jeff Harris (R). Scheduled for Ottawa are J.A. Happ (L), Jim Crowell (L) and Brian Mazone (L).

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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