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04/06/09 2:48 PM ET

Red Sox's season opener rained out

Forecast for rain moves game against Rays to Tuesday

BOSTON -- Not taking any chances, the Red Sox saved fans the annoyance of sitting through excessive delays and inclement weather by announcing shortly after 10 a.m. ET on Monday that the team's first Fenway Park season opener since 2002 had been rescheduled for Tuesday at 4:05 p.m.

The game against the Tampa Bay Rays -- Boston's opponent in last year's American League Championship Series -- was originally scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Monday.

"We met early this morning and made the decision to postpone until [Tuesday] for two or three basic reasons," said Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino. "One is the weather forecasts were consistently dire, much like our own weather forecast, but also five or six others that we consulted with and the networks and all that. It was going to start around noon gently and then just get worse and worse all day. The probability of getting an official game in, much less a complete game, were very remote, if not impossible."

Boston ace Josh Beckett will simply wait a day to open the season. Ditto for Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields.

All fans who had tickets for Monday can now use them on Tuesday. All along, Tuesday had been left on the schedule as an open date in case of bad weather on Monday.

"When they bag the game this early, it's because they know what's going on," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "They know something really bad [weather-wise] is coming and it's going to be a waste. [There's] nothing you can do about Mother Nature. The day off in between was a smart way to go when things like this happen. You never know about New England weather."

The forecast provided by Meterologix -- the Red Sox's weather service -- called for heavy rain, strong winds and possible thunderstorms that were set to begin in the early afternoon and continue into the night. Sure enough, the rain started coming around noon.

"Our fans look forward to this unofficial Red Sox Nation holiday each year, and we want to make sure that they are able to enjoy the full experience including both the special pregame ceremonies and a full nine innings of play," Lucchino said. "We reserved an alternate rain date for tomorrow for just such adverse circumstances as present themselves today."

The Red Sox took advantage of dry skies Monday morning by doing infield drills and taking batting practice, even after the game had already been called.

"You hate to work for two months and then sit around for three days," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That's always the worry. As much hitting and ground balls as we can do and staying right on schedule, the better off we'll be."

It was the first time Boston's home opener was postponed since 2003.

The Red Sox were pleased the matter was handled in a timely fashion.

"I think we all kind of knew in the back of our heads that this was a probability today," Francona said. "You hate to tell yourself that, because [if] you do play, you don't want to be anticlimactic. The communication was pretty good and we thought this might happen. But it's hard when you wake up and the sun is shining you feel like you're going to play, but you also know that there's a lot of fans that are taking work off and trying to [adjust their schedules]. ... I'm sure it's difficult. I think we handled it pretty well."

For Rocco Baldelli, the Rhode Island native, his first Opening Day in a Boston uniform will have to wait.

"I think we were ready to play," Baldelli said. "You wake up in the morning and you come to the field ready to play. It's Opening Day. Obviously the weather didn't cooperate, but we'll be fine. We'll just get ready to go [Tuesday]."

Why the later start time on Tuesday?

"We wanted to give people an opportunity to reschedule," Lucchino said. "If they got out of work, maybe the extra couple of hours would allow them to reschedule to come back. Kids who might have been coming today because they were getting out of school can at least see the game on television tomorrow after school. It was an effort to enable people to rejuggle their schedules and perhaps get some of the fun of Opening Day tomorrow."

The pregame festivities will go largely unchanged, except for the Boston Symphony Orchestra performing the national anthem instead of Seal. The Red Sox remain hopeful that Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has been battling brain cancer for the last year, will throw out the first pitch.

The Red Sox Foundation Welcome Home Dinner Presented By Covidien will take place as scheduled at the House of Blues Boston on Monday night. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program starts at 6 p.m.

Tuesday's opener will kick off a three-game series against the defending AL champion Rays. The second game will be Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m., with the finale on Thursday at 1:35 p.m.

The only impact the rainout has on the Red Sox's rotation is that Beckett will now make his second turn in the rotation on Sunday at Anaheim instead of Saturday. Brad Penny will make his debut for the team on Saturday.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.