CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Notes: Cold wreaks havoc on lineup

Notes: Cold wreaks havoc on lineup

NEW YORK -- It was only the second game of the season, but outfielder Rocco Baldelli and catcher Dioner Navarro were already out of the lineup on Thursday against the Yankees. But manager Joe Maddon had a pretty good reason for keeping two of his best players on the bench.

"I went out to get coffee in the morning, and it was snowing," Maddon said minutes after light flurries hit New York during batting practice. "If its snowing when you get coffee, you automatically check who's not feeling well."

So with temperatures in the 30s, Maddon was cognizant of Baldelli's knee problems over the past two seasons and Navarro's catching legs.

"Both wanted to play, and I told them, 'It's the second game of the season, and you guys are way too important,' " he said. "I don't want to risk it on a night like tonight, when we go back home, then we go to Texas, then we go back inside. It just didn't make any sense."

The cold caught everyone by surprise, even by April-in-New York standards.

Outfielder Delmon Young told Maddon that the only other time he'd ever played in cold weather -- having grown up in California -- was a Minor League game at Pawtucket. Second baseman B.J. Upton wore a ski mask under his helmet while hitting, with only his eyes visible.

Even Maddon, who grew up in Pennsylvania, was wrapped in layers and shielding himself from the elements.

"I grew up two hours from here, but I'm not good in the cold weather at all. I admit it, it's one of my weak points," he said.

OK, so it does sting a bit when you hit the ball off the end of the bat, and pitchers can have a tough time gripping certain pitches when it's this cold. Forever the optimist, though, Maddon found a way to be thankful for the numbing April chill.

"It's a unique situation for some of the guys, but it's a good one, because when you play in October, you have this same type of atmosphere," he said.

Not being Shielded: James Shields is in just his second Major League season, but he'll be pitching for the Devil Rays in their home opener on Friday against Toronto.

The right-hander went 6-8 with the Rays last season with a 4.84 ERA, but was solid this Spring Training, with a 3.38 ERA over seven starts.

Shields flew out of New York early Thursday evening to make sure he was back in St. Pete for Friday night's game.

"I have no problem with him at all, and I know he's really looking forward to it," Maddon said. "He's going to be a big-game pitcher as his career takes shape. He likes the moment, he's a tremendous competitor. I feel really good about him pitching [on Friday] night."

Up next: It's showtime in central Florida as the Devil Rays open their home slate on Friday against the Blue Jays at 7:05 p.m. ET. It's the third time Tampa has hosted Toronto in its home opener. In the 2005 home opener, the Jays won, 5-2, and Tampa clobbered Toronto, 8-1, in the 2001 opener.

Peter Zellen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}