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Weather wreaks havoc with Great Lakes Loons opening series

Photo: Great Lakes Loons

We are three days into the minor league season, and the Great Lakes Loons, the Dodgers' Class-A affiliate in the Midwest League, has yet to play a game. Three straight days of postponements at Dow Diamond mean the Loons will now have to open its season on the road, beginning Sunday against the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) in Comstock Park, Mich.

But what makes it frustrating is it wasn't as simple as three days of rain.

After rain postponed Thursday's opener, the Loons scheduled a doubleheader for Friday against the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres). But after director of grounds and facilities Nick Wolcott and his crew worked night and day to try to improve the field conditions, there was still extensive moisture under the soil and the doubleheader was canceled.

"Our staff has made every effort to make the field safe for the players," Loons general manager Scott Litle said on Friday. "Our grounds crew has consulted with a number of experts and will continue to do everything in their power to expedite the process. But, we also need to let Mother Nature take its course."

The plan for Saturday was to try to get a single game in, one last chance at an opening day at home, and the good news is that it didn't even rain. But still, the field conditions were deemed unplayable.

The warming temperature in Midland on Saturday contributed to the thawing process of the frost on the field, but also made for more moisture beneath the playing surface, making the field what the team called a sponge-like condition.

"While unfortunate, the field is not to a point where we feel comfortable sending both teams out to play today," Litle said. "Our number one objective is player safety, and given the current state of the playing surface, there is no alternative than to postpone today’s game. The field has gotten worse as the temperature has warmed up today. This is a unique situation and is not an issue cause by the rain earlier this week."

The three games against the TinCaps will be made up later in the season.

Brock Stewart, the Dodgers' sixth-round pick in 2014, will start for the Loons on Sunday at West Michigan, a 10 a.m. PT road start. The Loons return home for a three-game series against the Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays) on Wednesday.