Series begins Monday at Mets' home out of concern of hurricane's impact
By Mark Feinsand and Bill Chastain
BOSTON -- Two weeks after the Rays opened their home for the displaced Astros following Hurricane Harvey, Tampa Bay is on the other side of the equation as Hurricane Irma makes its way toward Florida.
MLB announced Friday that the Rays' three-game series against the Yankees will be moved from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to Citi Field, the home of the Mets. The games will be played on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as originally scheduled, and the Rays will be the home team.
Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday at Yankees.com. Field Level reserved seating will be $25, and there will be no fees on ticket purchases for the three-game series.
"Selfishly I think everyone in here has put their families ahead of anything before the game happens, and I think that's the right thing to do," Evan Longoria said. "The game is always going to be here. The most important thing is making sure that the families and the kids and people and communities are safe. So I think that the Rays organization has done a great job in communicating those things."
In addition to flying the players to Boston, the Rays flew their families as well. Longoria said that bringing along the families and "doing as much as they can to get everybody out of harm's way" will help the players focus.
Our next home series, Sept. 11-13, has been relocated to @CitiField.
"All the help they've given us has made this a lot easier," Longoria said.
"I think it makes a lot of sense," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's easy travel, in a sense, for both teams. They're coming from Boston. I know Tampa doesn't want to lose home games, but I think there was some risk we wouldn't maybe play till Wednesday, then you'd have a doubleheader, then probably a doubleheader at our place. So I think [MLB] made a good decision."
Other sites, including Baltimore's Camden Yards and Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field, were considered before settling on Citi Field, but a lack of hotel rooms in both cities made those neutral sites difficult.
"I don't really know any other options," Logan Morrison said. "It would be nice if they could switch it up [with the Yankees] and we could play the [coming series] in New York and the second one [Sept. 26-28] in Tampa, but I don't know if we'll get back to Tampa by that time."
By playing in New York -- albeit in Queens, not at the Yankees' Bronx home -- only the Rays' traveling party will require hotel accommodations.
"After much consideration, our games against the Yankees will be moved to Citi Field as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida," said Rays president Brian Auld. "We are grateful to the Mets for opening their doors to us. We are most concerned with the safety of our fans, our families, friends and neighbors."
Fans holding tickets to Rays-Yankees games at Tropicana Field should check raysbaseball.com/irma and all social media channels in coming days for information on exchanging their tickets or receiving a refund.
Information on purchasing tickets to these games at Citi Field, as well as media credentials, will be announced later.
With the Yankees holding the top Wild Card spot in the American League and the Rays sitting only 3 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card entering Friday's action, next week's series could have major postseason implications.
"Major League Baseball did what they always do; they evaluated all legitimate options and made the decision that was best for all parties," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
"Obviously there are games we have to play, and the season doesn't wait around for anybody," Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. "So we've got to figure out a way to play them. I know this is something they've been working on for several days now. I guess with the storm taking more of a westward track and affecting Tampa in a more serious way, it's something they had to make a move on. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully Florida and Tampa, especially, isn't affected as much as it's supposed to."
Hurricane Irma, which has already devastated parts of the Caribbean, was headed for South Florida on Friday and is expected to hit the Tampa/St. Petersburg area over the weekend. The Category 4 hurricane has winds in the 150-mph range and is expected to do major damage.
"I think there's a healthy discussion that goes on for a while between the teams, MLB, Tampa," Girardi said. "I'm not privy to the conversations, but I think it's been going on for four or five days. Again, I said we wouldn't really know if they were going to pay attention to the path, and the path seems to be going right through the heart of Florida, so I think that's why they moved it."
Two weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Houston and much of the Gulf Coast, forcing the Astros to move a home series against the Rangers to Tropicana Field.
The Rays are scheduled to be off on Thursday, then open a home series Friday against the Red Sox.
This won't be the first time the Yankees have played games on Mets turf -- and not against the Mets. They spent the entire 1974-75 seasons playing at Shea Stadium while Yankee Stadium underwent renovations, and hosted a game against the Angels at Shea in 1998 after an expansion joint fell through Yankee Stadium's upper deck.
Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.