© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

03/31/07 4:32 PM ET

Rain threatens Civil Rights Game

Inclement weather expected to last until close to start time

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- With steady and sometimes heavy rain falling on downtown Memphis, the scheduled first-pitch time for the inaugural Civil Rights Game presented by AutoZone is in doubt.

The game between the Cardinals and the Indians is slated to start at 4:50 p.m. CT. A Major League Baseball official said that the league has been informed that the rain may slack off by approximately 4 p.m., leaving a "window" to start the game. MLB has no intention of a lengthy delay -- if conditions are sufficiently good to play, the game will start. If not, it will be called sooner than later.

The latest forecast calls for rain to continue through at least 5 p.m., after which the field would still have to be drained. According to weather.com, the rain coverage does not drop below 60 percent until after 8 p.m. CT.

Any decision on a delay -- or, possibly, cancellation -- of the game would be made by MLB.

As well as being a showcase event for MLB, the Civil Rights Game is the final contest of the exhibition schedule for both teams. Complicating matters is the fact that the Cardinals play a Sunday night game against the Mets to open their regular season, eliminating the possibility of a one-day postponement.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he had also been informed, by the team's charter pilot, that the rain might pass by 4 p.m. According to Memphis officials, the field at AutoZone Park drains well and quickly, so once the weather lets up, it likely wouldn't take more than an hour to get under way.

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