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Bisons continue waiting game with wet weather

They milled about the lower hallways of Coca-Cola Field, cracking jokes and taking their turns in the batting cage.

It was pretty much all they could do. For the third straight day.

“It’s tough. We obviously want to get out there and play,” said Buffalo Bisons catcher Mike Nickeas. “We’re kinda going a little stir crazy. ... I’ve played more cards in the last three days than I can remember playing in the past two years.”

For the third day, the Buffalo Bisons saw their game at Coca-Cola Field washed out due to rain and wet grounds.

The hope is that the weather clears long enough for the grounds crew to get the field in shape and that the rain holds off long enough to get in a pair of seven-inning games both today (1:05 p.m., Radio 1520 AM) and Sunday.

The four-game series with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders has turned into a weekend of back-to-back doubleheaders.

And well, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

“We’ve been getting some really quality work inside with the exception of ... getting on the field to take ground balls,” manager Marty Brown said. “That’s always a concern when you have to stay off the field and can’t take infield.

“Fortunately we have a facility where we can get our work done but nobody wants to go through the season stacking up doubleheaders. It’s never good on your pitching especially, but sometimes that happens in this part of the country. Everybody else has to deal with it, too.”

The Herd is looking to end a three-game losing skid. After opening the season with three straight wins over Rochester, they took their lumps against the Red Wings and then the Syracuse Chiefs, losing their last three.

In that span, the opposition has outscored the Bisons, 30-8.

Is the unexpected time off good? Or does it hurt the club trying to find a consistent winning groove? Actually, it’s too early to tell.

“I think it’s neutral,” Nickeas said. “It’s still so early. We don’t really know where we’re at yet as far as what kind of momentum this team has. If anything, it’s good refresher to let guys get settled in town and make this our home for the next few months.”

Brown noted the early-season games are an opportunity to play around with the lineup, looking for the best combinations, which can prevent teams from settling into an immediate groove. But it’s hardly a cause for concern at this stage of the season.

“I think this is a more veteran type of group,” Brown said. “I think these guys come out and try to get prepared every day. I think right now there’s a lot of mixing and matching with lineups because you want to get everybody involved. You try to get everybody playing.

“As soon as that settles down, you can evaluate. But it’s tough. The early part of the season ... to have any consistency is difficult.”

The Bisons are expected to start Claudio Vargas in Game One and Miguel Batista in Game Two today.

Vargas is making his second start for the Herd after taking a no-decision at Rochester last Saturday. He gave up one run on three hits in four innings with four strikeouts and five walks.

Batista will be making his Bisons debut after the Toronto Blue Jays signed the 42-year-old to a minor league contract on Wednesday. Batista has played in 685 major league games, including going 11-8 in 48 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series championship season. Last year, Batista split time with the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves organization. In 2011, Batista went 3-0 with a 4.24 ERA for the Herd when they were a Mets affiliate.

Scranton is expected to start Brett Marshall (0-1, 12.27 ERA) and Graham Stoneburner (0-1, 4.50).

Fans who had tickets for Friday’s game may exchange them for any other 2013 Bisons game, with the exception of special events, at the Coca-Cola Field Box Office.

The doubleheaders today and Sunday are single-admission games.