Friday night’s Blue Jays home opener at the Rogers Centre marks the debut of Toronto’s new all-dirt infield, bringing a more traditional feel to the ball park
The Toronto Blue Jays return home after a long offseason wait tonight to face the division rival Boston Red Sox. They’ll also get their first taste of the new all-dirt infield, an offseason project that was just recently completed in time for the series.
“It’s the way baseball was meant to be played,” Stephen Brooks told Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. “It makes us consistent with every other team now.”
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It’s interesting that Kennedy also notes the Blue Jays modelled their infield design and clay mixture off of Camden Yards in Baltimore after speaking with players around the league about their individual preferences.
One sacrifice the Blue Jays will need to make, however, is the title of “The World’s Fastest Ground’s Crew”, something made possible by the minimal amount of clay to re-touch during the seventh inning stretch.
“We won’t use that title any more,” Brooks said, but hinted that a new title could be on the way. “I won’t say what we’re going to use instead just yet.”
This upgrade to the Rogers Centre is a step in the right direction and one that should benefit the health of Toronto’s players, whether they be infield defenders or running the base paths. It still isn’t a full natural grass field, though, and the distraction of this smaller upgrade hasn’t shifted everyone’s eyes from the bigger picture still at hand.
“I think everyone wants to see grass in here,” Kevin Pillar told Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun. “I think baseball is intended to be played on grass. But right now we have turf and that’s what I’m going to play on and that’s what I’m going to get used to playing on.”
Pillar’s defensive style in the outfield has made him very familiar with the turf beneath him, and it’s incredibly impressive that he managed to stay healthy (enough) for 159 games last season.
“We all know what’s underneath this,” he told Buffery. “Underneath grass is dirt and the earth. And underneath here is concrete, so yeah it’s going to be a little rougher on the body diving here, but this is what we got and this is what we’re going to play on and that’s really all I’m concerned about.”
The dirt infield that will be debuted tonight is good news for the club nonetheless, but let’s call it better news for the infielders.
In other news pertaining to this weekend’s series, David Price is no longer expected to pitch against the Blue Jays after Boston’s game against the Cleveland Indians was postponed. Joe Kelly, Rick Porcello, and Steven Wright are now projected to face Marcus Stroman, R.A Dickey, and Marco Estrada in the three-game set.