The Cleveland Indians held their second workout in front of empty seats Saturday, substituting an intrasquad game for a series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Downtown usually is abuzz before the American League Central Division leaders take the field in September. On Saturday, sidewalks surrounding the Jake were nearly deserted.
A few fans walked up to the left-field gate that provides a view of the field, where the Indians held a workout and then a five-inning intrasquad game.
"I was passing through Cleveland and always wanted to see Jacobs Field," said Ann Thompson, of St. Louis. "I had no idea the players were here. I just enjoy baseball. I miss it. I'm driving home from Rochester, N.Y., and would like to listen to a few games on the radio."
Inside the ballpark, every sound of the game was easily heard by the players, the stadium workers and the media.
When a close pitch was called a ball by a member of the grounds crew serving as the plate umpire, left fielder Ellis Burks said, "No way!" His voice carried throughout the ballpark.
It was so quiet that the scraping sound of Milton Bradley's spikes could be heard as he slid into third base. Every pop of the mitt pierced the silence.
Despite the unusual setting, players took the workout seriously. Travis Fryman became so upset with a called third strike that he argued and threw his helmet. He later apologized to head groundskeeper Brandon Koehnke, who was calling balls and strikes.
Baseball called off games after the attacks on New York and Washington last Tuesday. The Indians will resume with a game Tuesday night against Kansas City at Jacobs Field.
"I think we are all ready to play," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's what we do _ we play baseball. We go along with everything the commissioner has said and it is tough, what everybody is going through, but it's time to get back to business."
Cuban defector Danys Baez said he's still in shock from the attacks, but he thinks it's time to start playing baseball again.
"In Cuba, things are not so good _ not anything like what happened in New York, but not what you usually see in America," the reliever said. "And we played baseball. I think it will be good for America to play baseball, too."
Catcher Einar Diaz was in his native Panama when dictator Manuel Noriega was ousted. Hundreds were killed during a bombardment by U.S. forces on Dec. 20, 1989, that led to Noriega's removal.
"It was very scary then, too," he said. "I was 19 years old and it happened right in my city. That is the only thing I can compare to what happened in New York, but what happened Tuesday is so much worse.
"This is such a great country, so it is very sad to see New York. But I
must put this out of my mind and go play baseball. I had to do that
before, in Panama, and I will do it again."