Groundskeeping in Rain, Pt. 2

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Yesterday, I posted this interview with Bulls head groundskeeper Scott Strickland. After last night's rain delay I interviewed Strickland again and he offered an interesting anecdote that may provide a subtle indication of the stress and uncertainty on the Bulls' pitching staff right now. Here's what he had to say:

Normally, toward the end of a rain delay, when we are pulling the tarp off, we go to the pitching coaches and we ask them how long they need to get relievers ready, or if they are keeping their starter in the game, how long the starter needs to get ready again.

Today, we were forty minutes into a rain delay. At 8:42 (pm), our pitching coach (Neil Allen) comes up to me, and usually it’s the other way around - I usually go to him, and he says, ‘What time can we get going?’ I knew that meant he had some reason behind it. So I said, ‘What time do you want to get going?’ He said he wanted to keep Sonny (starter Andy Sonnanstine) in the game to go at least two more innings, and he needed to start back up by 8:55 or else the delay would be too long for Sonny to be down and back up again. So, we had to crank it out in a hurry to get the tarp off completely. If the game is going to resume at 8:55 the field needs to be clear by 8:52 or :53 so they can have a few warm-up pitches and be ready to go by :55. We had to bust it there for a few minutes.

The hole punches by the Aerifyer that I told you about last night helped us drain the water quicker than it normally would have. It can make a big difference for the rest of the weekend if we can keep a starter in the game an inning or two longer and save bullpen arms. You could easily say that punching those holes with the Aerifyer last night saved our bullpen some pitches tonight. It’s connected, it’s absolutely connected, the groundscrew and the play on the field. Most people don’t understand that.

That’s the first time in my eight years with the Bulls that the pitching coach has initiated the conversation with a preferred time to start back the game.

Possibly more to come from Scott Strickland as the rainy weekend progresses and the Bulls need every fresh pitch they can muster to maintain their division lead.

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