Opening days and home openers never get old to baseball players. What does get frustrating is foul weather.
In a 36-hour span, the Round Rock Express went from freezing precipitation to squalls to an all-out snowstorm in Colorado Springs to warm and humid with driving rainstorms in Round Rock.
The result is one snowout and one rainout-to-be-continued. Friday night’s home opener, for which 11,250 tickets were sold, was suspended in the second inning with Round Rock leading Memphis 3-1. The game will resume at 1:05 p.m. Sunday as part of a doubleheader.
“I love openers and I’m excited to put on the home white uniform, but it’s weird to see all this rain here,” said center fielder Jared Hoying, who’s been around Central Texas long enough to know about droughts.
“The temperature was in the 30s for our game Wednesday night in Colorado, then we got snowed out Thursday, and now a deluge here. Makes it hard to get into a rhythm. I just want to get out there and play.”
Friday’s game started late because of rain. It subsided long enough for Round Rock outfielder Michael Choice to belt a 412-foot, three-run homer over the center field fence in the first inning.
“Openers are so much fun,” said Hoying, the 2014 Express MVP with a 26-homer, 20-steal season. “You really do feel like a little kid again.”
Even if you’re not. Infielder Ed Lucas is 32 and has been around the block a few times, but his enthusiasm isn’t diminished.
“I’ve been in the PCL for eight years, and home-opening night is still a favorite,” Lucas said. “The fans are excited, and you can feel it.
“Round Rock was always one of my favorite stops, and now I’ll have the fans on my side.”
Lucas doesn’t have to reach far back for an opening-day memory.
“I had a good spring last year, made the Marlins major league roster, then got hit by a pitch in the final spring game and broke my left hand,” he said. “What an emotional swing.”
Friday’s weather dampened spirits, sliced the crowd in half and cut short some pregame ceremonies. But fans did get to view Nolan Ryan’s Hall of Fame plaque, on display from Cooperstown.
“Nolan will always be No. 1 with me,” said John Henderson of Austin, wearing a Rangers cap. “I wasn’t lucky enough to attend one of his no-hitters, but I saw two of his two-hitters. The plaque is cool. My wife took a picture of me next to it.”
Notes: Fans can exchange their Friday tickets for Sunday or another game. A large crowd is expected at Saturday’s 6:05 p.m. game, which will be followed by a Bob Schneider concert. Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, the Rangers’ top pitching prospect, will face the Redbirds’ Tyler Lyons.