Earlier start to Dolphins-Saints kickoff
The Marlins already had postponed Friday night's game against the Cubs. No makeup dates have been scheduled, and the Marlins were waiting until Saturday to decide whether to delay the third game of the series Sunday.
Marlins spokesman Steve Copses said there is no chance the games will be played at Wrigley Field next weekend when Florida travels to Chicago for a three-game series.
Both teams have an open date Monday, Sept. 20. Other than that, the games most likely would be played after the season ends Oct. 3. The Marlins trail the Cubs by 2½ games in the race for the NL wild card.
The Cubs remained in Chicago on Friday, awaiting word on the series.
Frances weakened into a strong Category 2 storm Friday night with top sustained winds of 105 mph, down from 145 mph a day earlier. It still could push ashore waves up to 10 feet high north of where its center hits and dump 10 to 20 inches of rain, meaning deadly flooding was possible in a state with hundreds of miles of low-lying coastline.
The core was now expected to hit somewhere in Florida as early as Saturday afternoon, instead of early Saturday as had been predicted. Hurricane Frances is the size of Texas and more than twice as large as Hurricane Charley, which hit the western coast of Florida three weeks ago.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been in contact with league officials about their possibilities. Tampa Bay is scheduled to play Detroit Friday through Sunday at Tropicana Field. As of late Friday afternoon, the game is still on.
Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins arrived for their preseason game Friday night against New Orleans short nine players.
With Hurricane Frances approaching the eastern coast of Florida, Miami players requested that their preseason game in New Orleans be canceled. The NFL decided to go ahead with the contest, although the league moved the game up 30 minutes to give the Dolphins extra time to return home.
Harvey Greene, Miami's senior vice president of media relations, said some of the players that did not make the trip were excused for medical reasons. Some missed the game because of a mix-up about the trip.
The Dolphins were originally scheduled to fly to New Orleans on Thursday, but that plan was scrapped when players requested that the game be canceled. When NFL officials said the game would be played, the team rescheduled the flight for Friday morning.
"Last night most of the players were under the impression that we were not going," Greene said. "When we found out we were going we tried to call our players and let them know but there were a number we could not reach."
Greene did not know how many players could not be contacted, but wide receiver Chris Chambers was one player who did not know about the rescheduled flight and was not at the game, he said.
The Dolphins planned to fly out as soon after the game as possible. They hoped to be able to land in Ft. Lauderdale. If not there, Greene said they'll try for Miami or West Palm Beach.
Also absent from the game were defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, wide receiver Antonio Freeman, fullback Rob Konrad, tight end John Jones, defensive tackle Larry Chester, tackle Wade Smith, tight end Donald Lee and defensive tackle Tim Bowens.
Smith and Chester, both starters, didn't travel because their wives are pregnant. Bowens remained in South Florida because of a back injury. Punter Matt Turk arrived in New Orleans on Friday after driving to the game with his wife, five children and dog.
The threat of Frances has forced additional postponements.
On Thursday, the Florida State-Miami game scheduled for Monday night at the Orange Bowl was postponed to next Friday as Frances moved closer to Florida's east coast. The game will still be televised nationally by ABC.
Florida's opener against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday also was put off, until Oct. 16.
On Friday, South Florida postponed its Monday football game against Pittsburgh to the Dec. 3-4 weekend.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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