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Cold Weather Makes it Tough to Field the Perfect Playing Surface

Mark Arehart
Brandon Koehnke has been head groundskeeper for the Indians for 25 seasons.

After going 2-4 on the road to start the season, the Cleveland Indians are getting ready for the team’s home-opener Friday. The team's grounds keeping crew has been fighting against cold weather to make sure the playing field itself is ready for the big day.

For 25 seasons, Brandon Koehnke has been responsible for the green grass of the outfield, the smooth clay of the backstop and everything in between.

He’s the groundskeeper, and he’s never had a spring quite like this one.

“You could always almost predict that 12-14 days in the month of March you would have times to get things ready. This year we didn’t have that. We had about four (days).”

He’s seen snow and rain leading up to previous opening days, but nothing as challenging as the constant temperature changes of this year.

A cycle of freezing and thawing has wreaked havoc on the infield, creating potholes and fissures that need to be continually fixed. Tasks that would normally be done in a single day, like building up the perfect pitcher’s mound, had to be spread out over multiple days.

But Koehnke said he’s confident the field will be ready for the first pitch.

As much as he enjoys opening day, he says he likes the field more after it’s been played on.

“Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with a few scars.”