As Houston and its surrounding communities continue to reel from the catastrophic aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey (now a tropical storm), baseball sources said the Mets’ upcoming series with the Astros likely will move to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Earlier Monday, Major League Baseball officially announced that the Astros will play their next series at Tropicana Field, where they will be the home team during a three-game set against the Rangers.
The venue shift came amid fears that the region will continue to get battered with heavy rainfall of up to 20 additional inches through tomorrow, a downpour that would worsen the massive flooding that has crippled the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Though the exact count hasn’t been confirmed, several deaths have been blamed on the disaster.
MLB and the players’ union announced that they will jointly donate $1 million to the American Red Cross and other organizations providing relief efforts throughout Texas.
“The safety of our fans, players and staff remains our main priority,” Astros president Reid Ryan said in a statement tweeted by the club. “We are extremely grateful to the Tampa Bay Rays organization for allowing us to use their facility.”
Despite a published report that indicated a decision on the Mets series was final, Ryan stopped short of announcing the Astros’ plans past the Rangers series. Indeed, a chance exists that Houston will host the Mets series as scheduled on Friday. It would set up a somber parallel to last season, when the Mets were the first team to play the Marlins after the death of Jose Fernandez.
But sources said the Mets-Astros series is likely to be played in Florida and that a formal announcement wasn’t made to give the Astros more time to decide if playing at Minute Maid Park will become more feasible in the next few days.
“We’ll make a decision on this weekend’s series versus the Mets in the upcoming days as we continue to monitor the conditions,” Ryan said. “In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the hurricane.”
Sources said moving the series to Citi Field, with the Astros officially designated as the home team, had been a possibility early in deliberations, but as talks continued, that option became increasingly unlikely.
Remaining at Tropicana Field would allow the Astros’ relocated games to be played without additional travel. Their next 10 games after the Mets series will be in Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim.
The Astros have not played in Houston since Aug. 24, and if the Mets series gets moved to St. Petersburg, their string of games away from home will stretch to 19. But it’s hardly unprecedented for natural disasters to force alterations to the schedule.
In 2008, Hurricane Ike forced the Astros to shift a pair of games against the Cubs from Houston to Miller Park in Milwaukee. And in 1989, when Mets GM Sandy Alderson was running the Oakland A’s, an earthquake forced a 10-day postponement during the World Series.
NFL preseason change
The Texans’ preseason game against the Cowboys on Thursday night — scheduled for Houston — has been moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington. — AP