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Tampa Bay Rays switching from FieldTurf to AstroTurf at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG — The new AstroTurf being installed at Tropicana Field should look a little darker and more resemble natural grass than the FieldTurf being replaced.

But it should play about the same, except for one noticeable difference according to infield coach Tom Foley, who participated in several tests of the surface with Rays players.

"This turf is probably a little bit slower; our turf was getting real fast," he said. "It's a darker green, it looks real good to the eye. The rolls are true, there's no snaking, and we should get the same hops we're used to. It just may be slower."

The Rays got the 1.1 million square feet of turf at no cost as part of AstroTurf's sponsorship arrangement with Major League Baseball, with installation to be completed by mid February.

The turf, less bouncy and slightly different than what is installed at Toronto's Rogers Centre, is called GameDay Grass 3D60H. It features a horseshoe-shaped polymer fiber that the company says will remain upright longer to create a more "grass-like, uniform, predictable" surface, leave fewer rug burns when fielders slide or dive, and last longer, with an eight-year guarantee. The previous FieldTurf was installed in 2007.

The Rays will sell pieces of the old turf at the Feb. 19 FanFest with proceeds going to charity.

Also: The Rays were ranked second in overall organizational talent (behind Kansas City) by ESPN's Keith Law and had a major-league-most eight prospects among his top 100, led by pitcher Jeremy Hellickson at No. 14.

Around the majors

COURTS: Infielder Adam Kennedy, who signed a minor-league contract with the Mariners this month, was contrite after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence on an Orange County freeway. According to the California Highway Patrol, Kennedy was arrested Wednesday night near Newport Beach and received a misdemeanor citation. Kennedy, 35, said he was slightly above the legal limit, but it was "not acceptable to be driving in that situation. … It's not a great way to start off with a new organization."

In other Mariners news, GM Jack Zduriencik said they're moving forward with outfielder Milton Bradley as part of the team as they await his court appearance after his arrest in Los Angeles earlier this month.

CUBS: Right-hander Braden Looper and infielder Augie Ojeda agreed to minor-league contracts.

INDIANS: The team said centerfielder Grady Sizemore and catcher Carlos Santana, who had their 2010 seasons cut short by knee surgery, are expected back fully healthy.

Orioles: Former Rays pitcher Nick Bierbrodt, whose career was interrupted by a 2002 shooting, signed a minor-league deal with Baltimore.

PADRES: Former Rays infielder Jorge Cantu reached agreement on an $850,000, one-year contract.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays switching from FieldTurf to AstroTurf at Tropicana Field 01/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 9:46pm]

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