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Rain, Rain, Go Away: Kernels Want To Play

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Three guys were in the outfield at Veterans Memorial Stadium tossing around a Frisbee. Two were playing putt-putt golf against one another in the locker room hallway.

Another three were using the clubhouse television to play some sort of Super Mario Brothers game on Nintendo. Virtually everyone else was watching them.

Manager Jake Mauer was watching the Masters and reminiscing about playing Augusta National Golf Course last fall with his brothers, Joe and Billy.

"The greens are like concrete," Mauer said.

This was about 3:30 p.m. Friday when the Cedar Rapids Kernels were supposed to be in Clinton preparing for a Midwest League game against the LumberKings. Instead they were about an hour away from practicing on Kingston Stadium's FieldTurf because their home field wasn't even dry enough for practice.

Another rainout. Four in a row.

"It's not fun," Kernels pitcher Mason Melotakis said in between putts. "I'd like for this to happen after maybe a two-month stretch instead. Not now."

The Kernels haven't played a game since Monday night. Even that one, a 10-2 win at Wisconsin, was in less-than-ideal conditions.

"Game-time temp was 32," Mauer said. "But I bet it was in the lower 20s by the time the game was over."

Mauer is used to that stuff. He grew up in St. Paul, Minn., and went to college at hometown St. Thomas University.

"We played in snow," he said with a laugh.

But most of the Kernels players are from warm-weather places like Florida, Texas and the Dominican Republic. Part of development is learning how to handle the cold weather. Or not playing for extended periods of time because of cold, rain and snow.

"You're in the Midwest in the spring time," Mauer said. "I was born and raised with it. But some of these guys are wondering 'What the heck?'"

Yeah, and what the heck to do with all this down time.

"Rained-out games," Melotakis said, while watching D.J. Hicks putt a golf ball off a couple of walls toward an imaginary hole. "We've got to occupy our time somehow."

Cedar Rapids is scheduled to play double-headers Saturday and Sunday at Clinton before returning home Monday night for a three-game series against Wisconsin. The forecast Saturday in Clinton is for a high of about 50 with a partly cloudy sky.

These guys will take it.

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