The annual trip to Miami is the Rays’ shortest of the season, but a series of weather-related issues caused an extended delay in their departure, from 5 p.m. Monday until 9 a.m. Tuesday.
The primary cause for the change in plans were the storms that closed the ramps and runways at Tampa International Aiport, delaying the arrival of the Delta plane from Atlanta, as well as the charter flight crew, and also preventing the grounds crew from performing the general maintenance and prep work necessary for their flight.
With more severe weather expected to come through Tampa tonight and the potential for another shutdown at TIA, Rays travel and logistics director Chris Westmoreland said the decision was made to postpone the trip until Tuesday.
"We didn’t want to get into a situation where we had extended delays, or we get everything prepared and have to keep pushing the time back,'' he said. "So we felt it was best for everyone to be proactive.''
That change will have the Rays in the unusual though not unprecedented position of traveling the day of a game, though given the short flight and proximity of the airport, hotel and stadium in Miami it would not seem to be a major hassle, as the traveling party should be in its rooms by 11 a.m. Players usually arrive at visiting stadiums between 3-4 p.m. for a 7:10 game.
Another option would have been to take buses for the 4-plus hour drive, but since it is more than 200 miles the Rays would have first had to get permission from the players association, and then finalized arrangements and logistics.
Minor-league teams often travel day of game when they fly, or on bus trips that sometimes take overnight.
The Nationals recently had an extended delay trying to get from Philadelphia to Milwaukee, spending more than seven hours sitting on the plane on the tarmac, from roughly 7 p.m. until close to 3 a.m. due to an engine issue, then going to a hotel and leaving the next morning.