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Improved weather greets G-Braves at opener

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LAWRENCEVILLE -- With rain, wind and a high barely topping 40 degrees on Thursday, the decision to postpone the Gwinnett Braves' season opener one more day may have been a bit painful, but the 24-hour delay was certainly worth the wait.

Under bluebird skies, a gentle breeze out toward center and a temperature 25 degrees higher than Thursday, Gwinnett's 2013 campaign was launched Friday night at Coolray field against the Charlotte Knights.

The season officially got underway at 7:06 p.m. when lefty starter Chris Gilmartin threw a strike on the season's first pitch.

"It's never a decision to be taken lightly, especially on opening day," Gwinnett Braves general manager North Woods said. "However, you don't want that first experience to be unpleasant, so we felt that if we waited 'til Friday with the weather report we were getting, more people would come out."

While the cancelation may have altered the plans of those who were going to attend Thursday, it created a special opportunity for those who came Friday.

Bill Cannon, who received tickets from his wife's work located within in sight of the stadium, jumped at the chance to attend the rescheduled opener.

"My wife works right over here, so it was an easy choice," said Cannon, who has followed Gwinnett for its four previous seasons here and also attended the 2010 opener. "The weather right now is perfect, so everything worked out great."

For those in attendance Friday, it was indeed a great situation as the promotion for Thursday was honored Friday night as the first 2,000 fans received T-shirts courtesy of Georgia Power while also enjoying a fireworks presentation after the game.

Fans also got their first look at new Gwinnett manager Randy Ready, who took over managerial duties in January in replacement of Dave Brundage, who left to coach the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Along with Ready and a slew of new faces in the lineup, those wanting to see a Gwinnett Braves game this year will be able to enjoy new start times. Most home games on Mondays through Thursdays this season will start at 6:05 p.m.

When it was all said and done, 6,272 fans walked through the turnstiles. Fans who had tickets for Thursday's game will be allowed to redeem them for any home game this season.