Gophers ready to come home to Siebert

Minnesota will play its first home game of the season on Wednesday.

Gophers outfielder Dan Motl leads off the base on April 13, 2014, at Siebert Field.

Daily File Photo; Patty Grover

Gophers outfielder Dan Motl leads off the base on April 13, 2014, at Siebert Field.

Ben Gotz

When the Gophers officially moved to their new outdoor stadium — Siebert Field — in 2013, they had to make a few sacrifices.

One of them was giving up any chance of home games until late March.

For the second consecutive year, the Gophers opened their schedule with 20 road games, traveling up and down the country to play teams while waiting for Minnesota weather to warm up.

All that traveling can wear on a team.

“I think everyone is sick and tired of being on the road,” head coach John Anderson said. “It gets old, definitely. No question about it.”

For the first six weeks of the season, the Gophers schedule has been largely the same — arrive home late Sunday night or early Monday morning, then hit the road again Thursday. Earlier in March, the Gophers took off again in the middle of the week for a Wednesday exhibition game in Florida against the Minnesota Twins.

“It’s tough the first couple of weeks, but you get into a routine, you get the hang of it and it’s really fun to see all of these ballparks,” junior outfielder Dan Motl said.

Recently, the Gophers road schedule has had plenty of complications as well. Their first game against Creighton was moved back a day, and one game in the series had to be canceled.

Over spring break, the Gophers saw more complications in Virginia, staying until Monday to finish their last game of a tournament. And last week against Maryland, their games were moved back a day, with an early doubleheader taking place on Saturday.

Their first home game, which was supposed to be Tuesday, was pushed to Wednesday.

“Especially over spring break, there’s been a lot of game changes,” senior third baseman Tony Skjefte said. “We’ve played a lot of morning games, 10 a.m. games, doubleheaders. Stuff’s been moved around on us. I think it has been a little bit of a grind, and I think once we get home, rest up a little bit, I think we’ll really play really well coming out.”

The Gophers haven’t been able to get many practices in during the week because of their schedule, Anderson said, and on the road, weather has sometimes prevented the team from even warming up on the field outdoors before games.

“We’ve been hitting in the cages a lot. We want to be on the field,” Anderson said. “That’s critical for us, especially when we practice indoors all the time. [We] didn’t get a lot of work on the field this week because of conditions, and that’s been a factor, no question about it, I think, just in terms of our ability to improve and sharpen our fundamental play.”

If the weather warms up enough to allow the Gophers to play their home opener on Wednesday, the team could start to get the outdoor practice its coach is looking for. The team will be able to settle down at home for a while, too, as 18 of the team’s next 24 games are scheduled at home.

“It’s going to be nice to not have to get on a plane every weekend,” Motl said. “We’re just excited to get back out there. Hopefully the weather stays warm and we can go out and get some wins.”