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Weather has Field Preps a Month Behind at PNC Field

MOOSIC -- Opening Day for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders is just one week away at PNC Field. Between the snow and rain throughout March, the grounds team had to put things on hold to get the field ready, and now they have a busy week ahead.

"I have high standards, so everything looks behind to me right now," said Director of Field Operations Steve Horne.

This will be Horne's 10th season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders grounds team. They started working on the field Sunday; they say that is about a month behind schedule.

"Part of the problem in March was we were too wet and too cold. It set the grass back into dormancy," Horne said.

Opening day at PNC Field in Lackawanna County is next Monday. Fireworks and a rally towel giveaway will be just some of the things to look forward to. They will also be celebrating the 2016 National Championship.

"We're needing warmer temperatures; sunshine would be really nice. So if you could order some of that up, I'll take it," Horne said jokingly.

The grounds team says they have been working around the clock the last two days, but they are keeping an eye on the forecast.

"We'll have people on standby. If there's any precipitation, we're going to cover it. When it stops, we're going to dump it. We're just going to continue to do it over and over and protect the field," said RailRiders COO and President Josh Olerud.

Players say it feels good to know the ground team cares so much because they know there is nothing they can do about the wet weather.

"There's tricks you can do to keep your hands dry. But that's part of baseball. You just have to adapt to it," said shortstop Tyler Wade.

The grounds team technically works all year round to make sure the field is ready for opening day. They say they have to work with the unpredictable weather of northeastern Pennsylvania.

"We worked a little early in February when we had the unusually warm weather. Thank goodness because we lost most of March," Horne said.

Horne says he feels the condition of the field is a reflection on him and everything he stands for.

"Every time this gate opens up here, it could be the very first time that a fan walks in to see our place. They're going to have a first impression and I want it to be a positive one," he says.

Opening day is Monday, April 10 at 7:05 p.m. versus the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The RailRiders' season officially starts this Thursday in Buffalo.

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