Storm systems throughout the country wreaked havoc on the baseball schedule, postponing six games Friday night and creating a weekend full of doubleheaders.
Hurricane Ike, a colossal storm nearly as big as Texas itself, began battering the Gulf Coast on Friday, a day after officials postponed the first two games of the weekend series in Houston between the Astros and Cubs.
Meanwhile, rainy weather throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic led to the postponement of games all the way from Baltimore to New York. Another storm wiped out the White Sox-Tigers game in Chicago.
It was the most major league postponements in one day since six games were wiped out on April 15, 2007. Prior to that, there hadn't been that many since April 12, 1997, when eight games were postponed, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Baseball officials also were anticipating that Sunday's series finale in Houston also might be postponed. One of the scenarios under consideration was to play a doubleheader Monday, and make up the third game on Sept. 29 if it's needed to decide a playoff berth. The Cubs and Astros have no common off days after Monday.
In New York, both the Mets and Yankees were postponed, setting up two doubleheaders Saturday. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only twice before have Mets and Yankees both played two games at home on same day on Sept. 21, 1982, and April 13, 1997.
In Philadelphia, steady rain forced the postponement of a key matchup between the NL wild card-leading Milwaukee Brewers and Phillies.
The game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader Sunday.
In Baltimore, the Orioles-Twins game never started and was finally called after a delay of nearly two hours. The scheduled a doubleheader for today.
In Chicago, batting practice was canceled but the grounds crew worked on the field to dry it out and it appeared the game would start on time. But three minutes before the scheduled first pitch, the tarp was rolled out and the field was covered again.
They also scheduled a doubleheader for today.
In Boston, the Blue Jays and Red Sox played through the rain, getting in an official game after a rain delay of 41 minutes.
DREW NOT READY TO GIVE UP ON 2008: Boston Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew, who hasn't played since last month because of a back injury, left the team because of a death in the family and will miss the rest of the four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hours after manager Terry Francona said he hoped to get Drew the early game of today's doubleheader, Francona said Drew had received an injection in his back that would have kept him from playing. But Drew will also miss Sunday's game because his grandmother died, Francona said; he will rejoin the team in Tampa Bay on Monday.
Drew was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his lower back last month in Toronto and hasn't played since. He was having his best season in Boston up to that point, with 19 home runs, 64 RBIs and a .280 batting average in 107 games.
"I'm confident, but I can't predict what's going to happen," Drew said before Friday night's game against Toronto, which Boston won 7-0. "I know what's going on, I've got a herniated disk that isn't any fun. We've got some capable players that can fill in and do a good job.
"My thing is not to go out there and be a hero and be stupid and really hurt pitching staffs by not tracking flyballs the way I'm capable of and hurt the team by not being able to swing the bat effectively," he said.
The Red Sox trailed the Rays by 2 1/2 games in the AL East but led Minnesota by six games for the wild card.
"It's tough when someone tells you they hurt, as much as you want them to not hurt, you can't tell them that," Francona said. "So, you do the best you can. We've been patient so to get impatient doesn't make a lot of sense."
Also Friday, the Red Sox recalled outfielder Jonathan Van Every from Triple-A Pawtucket.
A'S ELLIS TO MISS REST OF YEAR: Oakland Athletics second baseman Mark Ellis will miss the rest of the season and could be headed for surgery to fix a shoulder injury that has taken longer to heal than initially expected.
It's especially disappointing for Ellis considering he can become a free agent after this season. He has spent his first seven years in the big leagues with Oakland, including 2004 when he was sidelined with an injury to the same shoulder.
"When it wasn't getting better, I thought maybe something was wrong," Ellis said Thursday, when he rejoined the team after missing part of Oakland's recent road trip. "I'm done this year. It's definitely not the news you want to hear. That's just the way it is. If I have to get it fixed, I have to get it fixed. If not, I'll rehab all winter. It's not good timing, but it's not going to end my career."
A's team orthopedist Dr. John Frazier has recommended an operation on Ellis' right shoulder to repair a couple of chips in his cartilage. He also has a torn labrum in the shoulder that has been there for close to five years.
Ellis will seek a second opinion on results from his recent MRI by Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum before deciding early next week whether to go ahead with surgery. The recovery time would be between three and four months, so he expects to be ready for spring training 2009.
"We'll see what the doctors say," Ellis said. "We thought it was minor, just a bruise."
The 31-year-old Ellis batted .233 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs in 117 games for the A's this season. He stole 14 bases and committed only four errors. He had appeared in only two of the A's previous 17 games, pinch-running on Aug. 27 at Los Angeles and as a pinch hitter Aug. 30 against the Minnesota Twins.
He hurt the shoulder Aug. 21 at Seattle sliding into second base to break up a double play. Ellis started the following day but came out of the game in the second inning with shoulder pain.
"We've obviously missed him while he's been gone," manager Bob Geren said. "He's a huge part of the team. We wish him a speedy recovery, whether it's through surgery or not."
Eric Patterson and Cliff Pennington will pick up more playing time at second with Ellis out.
TIGERS' RELIEVER HAS FRACTURE IN SHOULDER: Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya has a stress fracture in a bone at the front of his right shoulder and will be shut down from baseball activities for six to eight weeks.
The hard-throwing right-hander, who is on the disabled list, will be evaluated at that time.
Zumaya had offseason right shoulder surgery and didn't join the team until June 20. He went back on the disabled list Aug. 13 because of a sore right shoulder and has appeared in only 21 games this season.
Zumaya threw a light session Monday and felt fine Tuesday, but on Thursday he woke up with discomfort in his shoulder, Tigers trainer Kevin Rand said Friday.
He then underwent an examination and tests revealed a non-displaced stress fracture of the right coracoid in his right shoulder.
"We're going to back off. No baseball activities, just rest," Rand said. "He's got to let this thing heal and callous over."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland said the plan is for Zumaya to "rest and heal up and be ready for spring training."
ROCKIES ACTIVATE HELTON FROM 60-DAY DL: The Colorado Rockies activated first baseman Todd Helton from the 60-day disabled list on Friday.
Helton was not in the starting lineup for the first game of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Rockies said he was available off the bench.
Helton was placed on the 15-day DL on July 3 because of a strained lower back. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 10. It was his third trip to the DL in his 11-year career and first time since 2006. In the first 10 years of his career Helton played an average of 154 games and never missed more than 18 games. He has missed 66 games in 2008 entering Friday.
The team designated right-handed pitcher Pedro Strop for assignment to make room for Helton on the 40-man roster.
Before going on the DL, Helton said his chronically sore back had been bothering him for a while, and after taking a big cut and miss against San Diego on July 2, his back locked up.
Helton's back has improved of late, and he took batting practice Wednesday and Thursday in Atlanta, and again Friday before the game with the Dodgers.
The 35-year-old, who brought a .332 batting average into the season, was hitting just .266 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 81 games. In his last 22 games leading up to July 3, he was hitting .182 (14-for-77).