Rays looking at switch to Astroturf
The Rays were curious enough about the new Astroturf that they brought head groundskeeper Dan Moeller to Toronto to take a closer look.
The Rays are considering, as we reported a few weeks ago, switching from FieldTurf to Astroturf at Tropicana Field for next season
"We're still fact-finding,'' Moeller said. "We're going to see if we want to make a change.''
The Jays are the first team to use the new version of Astroturf. The design is similar to FieldTurf, in that they are artificial turf designed to look and play more like real grass, so Moeller was checking out numerous details and discussing a wide variety of issues, such as the thickness of the base, how the blades were anchored, the amout of "spray" from the fill and "snaking" of rolling balls. Also to be decided is whether the Rays would install a permanent or removable turf.
"A lot of it depends on what our players say,'' Moeller said. "I do like the look of it.''
The initial review from infield coach Tom Foley, and confirmed by several players, was that it was "bouncier and faster'' than what they were used to. There also was some concern that because the Astroturf was on a thinner base than what's at the Trop that it would be more taxing on the players physically.
If the Rays don't switch to Astroturf, which has a sponsorship deal with MLB, for 2011, they are planning to keep the current FieldTurf they have. Interestingly, 3B Evan Longoria recently signed on as a spokesman for FieldTurf and taped a commercial.