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Rockies, Phils bracing for frigid Game 3

Rox, Phils bracing for frigid Game 3

DENVER -- You better not shout and you better not cry, but it might help if you put that thermal underwear and those wool mittens and ski hats on as soon as possible.

The National League Division Series is coming to town, where the holiday season is arriving a few months early.

Snow is scheduled to begin falling Friday night as the temperature drops to 27 degrees in the Mile High City, and even more Christmas cheer is on the way to Coors Field for a frigid, possibly snowy Game 3.

The forecast for 9 p.m. MT on Saturday, which will probably be the early innings, is for 31 degrees and 4 to 8 mph winds, making it feel like 23.

And while the Phillies might not be quite as accustomed to these alpine conditions as the hometown Rockies, at least one member of the defending World Series champions is fired up to get cold.

"That's short-sleeve weather," says Phillies outfielder Matt Stairs, who grew up in New Brunswick, Canada. "I've played in games when it was 30 below. Why do you think I have hockey skates in my locker?"

Stairs said it with a smile, but he's one of the only ones.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose team evened the series at a game apiece with a 5-4 victory in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, said he's well aware that the weather could cause Major League Baseball might step in and postpone Game 3.

"If it's a day where ... it's not conducive for either team to be playing baseball, it's going to jeopardize our fans from the standpoint of being treated to the type of baseball that has been played thus far in the first two games of the series in Philadelphia," Tracy said.

"If moving it back because there's going to be much better weather ... that would be the most sensible thing to do ... because, you know, Game 3 in a series that's 1-1, it's a fairly pivotal game.

"You'd hate to see a game be determined one way or the other due to the fact that the conditions were not good. Somebody slips that otherwise wouldn't have, if the conditions would have been much drier and much more conducive for baseball."

Meanwhile, the players weren't making any excuses in advance.

"It's not a big deal," Phillies reliever Ryan Madson said. "It's cold, but we've all got to play in it. You bundle up, sit by the heater and keep everybody warm."

Division Series
Gm. 1PHI 5, COL 1WrapVideo
Gm. 2COL 5, PHI 4WrapVideo
Gm. 3PHI 6, COL 5WrapVideo
Gm. 4PHI 5, COL 4WrapVideo

Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel sounded like he was looking forward to it. Then again, it's the first postseason start of his career.

"I've had snowball fights before," Hammel said. "So I can control those. Actually, I've pitched in a quadrupleheader in college, totally different stage, but we were expecting blizzard conditions. So we moved the doubleheader from Saturday up to Friday. I pitched in the later game, and it was snowing then.

"I'm a cold weather guy. I enjoy pitching in the cold. It doesn't bother me. ... But honestly, I'm excited to get out there, whatever the weather is. I'm not going to think too much about it. I've got hitters to attack."

Phillies reserve Greg Dobbs said players have different approaches to this kind of weather. He said since he's often called up on in late-game pinch-hitting roles, he'll stay warm by moving around, heading to the clubhouse and riding the exercise bike a bit. He also said he'll put on an extra layer.

"Everyone's played in these conditions before at some point in their career," Dobbs said. "You find ways to stay warm. No big deal."

Stairs said the frozen tundra of Coors Field could lead to a longer game, with hitters being more selective for one potentially painful reason.

"You swing at one in on the hands and foul it off and it hurts," Stairs said. "... You don't want those bumble bees, those stingers on the fingers."

Rockies reliever Joe Beimel agreed, saying he felt the pitchers will have the advantage.

"You can tell when a guy is a little timid to swing at a pitch inside and maybe hit it off the end of the bat," Beimel said.

Beimel's teammate, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, agreed.

"You should see more pitches because you just want to hit the ball with the barrel," Gonzalez said. "Otherwise, you'll be in pain."


"That's short-sleeve weather. I've played in games when it was 30 below. Why do you think I have hockey skates in my locker?"
-- Matt Stairs

Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba said it's tempting to call for more inside pitches to mess with hitters' heads, but not if the pitcher makes his living painting the outside corner.

"You don't really change your strategy as far as pitching, but you know that when you come to the park, it's going to be a mental game," Torrealba said. "Guys have been talking about this for two days now. All the questions have been about the weather here. So whoever comes in with a sharp mind will be in good shape."

That doesn't mean Torrealba, a native of tropical Venezuela, welcomes this weather, however.

"As a catcher, I've got it worse than anyone on the field," Torrealba said. "I can't move back there and I've got a guy throwing 90-plus all night, hurting my hand."

Phillies Game 3 starter Pedro Martinez has danced a lot of dances in what will surely be a Hall of Fame career, but he doesn't remember pitching in 20-something-degree conditions.

"It's something new for me," he said. "It's something new for everybody. This kind of weather, you don't see every year in a baseball game. ... I haven't pitched in snow, really. But I have pitched in [30-degree] weather in those playoffs in Boston, New York, and Cleveland. I'm not going to really make a big deal out of it."

That seemed to be the prevailing attitude during Friday's workouts.

"We're gonna be cold and they're gonna be cold," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's the way it goes. You just get ready and play the game, you know? Let's get it on."

Gonzalez agreed, saying the adrenaline surge the players will experience will heat up the proceedings faster than any heat lamp or body salve ever could.

"At this point of the season, most of us are in pain anyway, whether it's a blown-up finger or sore shoulders or just soreness everywhere in your body.

"In the playoffs, you don't really feel any of that stuff."

Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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