An annual improvement made to the Hadlock Field infield has backfired this season. With recent wet weather, the infield dirt hasn’t dried out as expected, forcing three Portland Sea Dogs games to be postponed and leaving Monday night’s game in jeopardy.

On April 20, the Hadlock infield dirt – basepaths and areas around the bases – underwent its annual renovation. Sports Turf Specialties (STS) brought in 28 tons of infield product (a combination of sand, silt and clay) to resurface the playing areas. STS, which has worked on Hadlock for years, also performs jobs elsewhere, including Fenway Park.

“We’ve done this the past eight years at around the same time,” Sea Dogs General Manager Geoff Iacuessa.

Iacuessa said the work isn’t performed before the season because weather conditions make it more difficult – the emphasis then is often on recovering from the winter (and, if needed, removing snow) for the home opener. The Sea Dogs’ opening homestand was April 13-19.

Renovating the infield dirt helps keep the surface level and firm. Another benefit is supposed to be better drainage but that’s not happening.

“With the big rain Wednesday and Thursday, (the infield dirt) did not accept the rain as well as it should,” Iacuessa said. “(The infield dirt) has to settle. It’s a much longer process than it has ever taken before. I don’t have a good explanation why.”

Before the renovation, Hadlock recovered well from wet weather.

After the heavy rains April 16 (2.4 inches recorded in Portland), the Sea Dogs were able to play the next day.

After the renovation on April 20, the field seemed fine – there was also no rain for four days. A high school game was played at Hadlock on April 24.

But then came more rain. Wednesday’s steady rain (1.31 inches) continued into early Thursday (0.42).

On Friday, which featured light rain (0.21 inches), the Sea Dogs were expected to start their second homestand with a 6 p.m. game against Reading. At 4 p.m. the Sea Dogs postponed the game, blaming the rain.

But on Saturday, it became obvious the field was in trouble. It didn’t rain, but the infield dirt was soft with moisture. The Sea Dogs moved the scheduled 1 p.m. game to 5 p.m.

“All day we had sun and wind, we felt good about moving it to 5,” Iacuessa said.

Soon after 5 p.m., the Sea Dogs postponed the game because the field was unplayable.

On Sunday morning the Sea Dogs checked the field again and postponed the scheduled 1 p.m. game.

All three games with Reading will be made up as part of doubleheaders when the Fightin’ Phils are back in town. Two have already been rescheduled (May 26 and June 19).

On Monday, the Trenton Thunder and Sea Dogs are expected to begin a three-game series with a 6 p.m. game. But Sunday’s light rain and Monday’s cloudy forecast don’t bode well for drying the field.

The Sea Dogs’ grounds crew attempted to facilitate the drying process Sunday.

“And we will be working on the field all day (Monday),” Iacuessa said.

Iacuessa said he has remained in contact with STS about the problem.

“We are confident in them,” Iacuessa said. “They feel strongly that the heavy rain (Wednesday) was the cause. They feel like Mother Nature has to take its course and dry it out.

“If it gets to the point that Tuesday and Wednesday doesn’t help it, then it’s a different conversation.”

The forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday calls for increasing sunshine and little chance of rain.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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