The future of Yankee Stadium remained cloudy Tuesday, and the forecast for today's rescheduled Angel-Yankee game in Shea Stadium isn't much better.
Amid speculation that structural stadium problems could push the Yankees out of their home field until midsummer, now comes this disturbing news: Rain is in the forecast for New York today.
The first two games of a scheduled three-game series against the Yankees were postponed after a 500-pound expansion joint fell from the ceiling of Yankee Stadium's upper deck onto the loge level Monday afternoon, demolishing the seat below.
The teams will move to Shea Stadium for today's game, which has been moved from 10 a.m. PDT to 9 a.m. But the Mets' game with the Chicago Cubs, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PDT in Shea will take precedence over the Angel-Yankee game, and the Mets will want the field covered if it's raining.
"If there is any rain at all it will be difficult to play," said umpire Jim McKeon, part of the crew working this series. "I would try to start in a mist, but I doubt they'll let me do it because it's a National League field and the Mets have priority."
The Angels are already expecting to have to play the Yankees five times in a four-day span on their next trip to New York on Aug. 24-27, but if today's game is rained out, they might have to return to New York on Aug. 31, a scheduled day off for both teams and one that splits Angel trips to Boston and Cleveland.
McKeon said there probably will be a curfew for today's game so the Mets and Cubs can prepare for their game.
"If there are any rules to be broken, we will break them to play this game," McKeon said.
Forty engineers from eight New York City agencies spent most of Tuesday probing and X-raying the skeleton of Yankee Stadium, and several cracks were found in concrete areas. The inspection is about half done and will be completed today.
Yankee players left Tuesday's exhibition game against the double-A Norwich (Conn.) Navigators believing the stadium problems were significant.
"I'd be surprised if we were playing any games here before June," one said.
But Jerome Hauer, head of the city's office of emergency management, said that "no structural problems have been found that would be cause for major concern."
The expansion joint that fell was replaced Tuesday morning, and Hauer said the concrete cracks will be repaired, beginning Thursday.
It was still unclear Tuesday when Yankee Stadium might be reopened, and the Yankees are working on a contingency plan for this weekend's series against Detroit, which probably will be moved to Shea Stadium.
"We're going to err on the side of caution, so we're going to go carefully, slowly with this inspection," Hauer said. "We don't want to miss anything."
Here's the Angels' itinerary for what figures to be a long Wednesday: Bus departs midtown Manhattan hotel at 7:45 a.m. EDT for Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The team will dress there, then depart for Shea Stadium in Queens at 9:45.
After the noon game, the Angels, who will have use only of an auxiliary clubhouse in Shea Stadium, will bus back to Yankee Stadium to shower and then head back to LaGuardia Airport--which is right next to Shea--for their charter flight home.
The Angels probably will spend several hours in rush-hour traffic going back and forth over the Triborough Bridge, which is under construction, but apparently good hygiene and the use of a big league facility are more important than logistics and a potential commuting nightmare.
"The facility we have at Shea has only four shower heads," Manager Terry Collins said. "So it would take two hours to shower."
ANGELS' KEN HILL (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. YANKEES' DAVID WELLS (1-1, 6.75 ERA)
Shea Stadium, New York, 9 a.m. PDT.
Radio--KRLA (1110), XPRS (1090).
* Update--Ken Hill has not given up a run in 14 innings this season, but it has been eight days since his last start, against Boston on April 7. The right-hander threw for about five minutes Tuesday to get his arm loose, but he's not sure how he'll respond today. "I might be throwing 95 mph, I might be throwing 80 mph, you never know when you have that long a rest," Hill said. "But there's nothing I can do about it. You've just got to roll with it." Manager Terry Collins has shuffled his rotation so that Chuck Finley can start Friday night on his normal four days' rest. Jack McDowell will start Thursday night against Tampa Bay in Edison Field, Jason Dickson will start Saturday and Allen Watson on Sunday.