By PAT GRAHAM AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) _ This weather pattern has left the New York Mets in quite a holding pattern.
So much so that it’s becoming a concern for manager Terry Collins, who’s worried about his team staying in rhythm in light of all the postponements.
For the third time in four days, the Mets had to hang out in the clubhouse instead of hitting hanging curves. The game between New York and the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night was postponed as another spring snowstorm passed through the Mile High City.
No makeup date was announced, but the teams won’t play a doubleheader on Thursday. The series finale is scheduled to begin at 3:10 p.m. EDT.
Lately, waiting on weather reports has become an all-too-familiar routine for the Mets. Monday’s game was pushed back due to flurries and made up as part of a doubleheader Tuesday that was swept by the Rockies. Just to get that game in, team employees, led by Colorado owner Dick Monfort, shoveled 8 inches of snow off the field. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson also pitched in.
The dreary weather seems to be following the Mets. Wintry conditions also forced their game in Minneapolis on Sunday to be rescheduled for Aug. 19.
All this down time is a little unsettling for Collins.
“This is a game of consistency, a game of repetitions,” Collins said. “When you lose those reps, it can change the outcome of a lot. … This has been a tough trip for us. Guys are tired of sitting at the hotel.”
To keep his top pitchers on normal rest, Collins will skip Jeremy Heffner on Thursday in favor of Jonathon Niese, while the Rockies will counter with Jon Garland.
That means Matt Harvey will pitch against Washington’s Stephen Strasburg when New York returns home on Friday.
The conditions are looking favorable for Thursday, too _ chilly, but dry. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with the high about 34 degrees.
Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis has rarely seen anything like this, and he’s even lived in Denver for six years. He went to high school at nearby Denver Christian.
“It is a little bit late in the year for two games to be canceled,” Nieuwenhuis said. “But it happens.”
The dilemma with so many days off is keeping your timing at the plate. Mets catcher John Buck has been in quite a groove and has his average up to .326 with six homers. But he’s also looking on the bright side.
“Maybe it’s good that it’s so close to spring training because in spring training this is how it was every day (not playing regularly),” Buck said. “It’s not far from that routine so maybe it’s good. It doesn’t bother me.”
Still, he’s anxious to play on a regular basis again, with no weather interfering.
The Rockies haven’t minded the cold as much, mainly because they’ve been winning. They swept the doubleheader, beating the Mets 8-4 in the opener and 9-8 in 10 innings during the nightcap when the temperature at first pitch was 36 degrees.
“It froze my brain for a little bit,” outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said, grinning.
This spring, nothing can cool Gonzalez’s bat. He’s hitting a team-leading .380 with four homers.
The Mets have employed a defense against Gonzalez that the San Diego Padres have been utilizing as well. When the slugger is up, they shift the infield over, with third baseman David Wright moving to the shortstop spot, shortstop Ruben Tejada sliding over to the right side of second base and second baseman Daniel Murphy relocating closer to first.
“When you’re facing CarGo, you let him have some singles to left field, if that’s what he wants,” Collins explained. “If he wants to push bunts, he can have those. Because he’ll hit more balls over the fence than he will have bunts.”
Gonzalez will simply take whatever the defense wants to give him.
“They think I’m focused on hitting home runs. You know what, I’ll take advantage of that. If you want me to take singles, I’ll take singles,” Gonzalez said. “I know that if you make a mistake, I’m going to hit it over the fence. It doesn’t matter if they’re playing the shift. I don’t think the shift is going to cover the stands.”
NOTES: The Mets optioned RHP Greg Burke to Triple-A Las Vegas and called up RHP Jeurys Familia. Burke took the loss in the nightcap Tuesday when he allowed a game-ending single to Jordan Pacheco in the 10th. … Rockies players didn’t come to Coors Field on Wednesday. … The Mets and Rockies both have off days on June 24 and June 27 _ possible dates to make up the game. … Alderson on the spring weather: “Very crazy for us. Very crazy for most. We just happen to hit it squarely in Minnesota and Denver. That’s life in the big leagues, I guess.” … Harvey on going against Strasburg: “It’s going to be fun, definitely looking forward to it.”
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