1. Sports

Rays installing new turf at Tropicana Field for 2017

This turf installed in 2011 will have similarities to the new turf, including blade fibers, but a shallower fill should keep the blades standing up more.
Published Feb. 9, 2017

The Rays are planning to install new artificial turf at Tropicana Field that they expect will feel, play and look better.

The new surface — from Shaw Sports Turf, pending final contract details — will have a similar fiber blade and rubber infill as the current AstroTurf, installed in 2011, but also improvements, such as a hard foam pad between the field and the stadium's concrete base to lessen wear and tear on fielders.

"Unsurprisingly, turf technology has evolved in the last five years," team president Brian Auld said, "and we think the new turf will be better for our players' bodies and play a little truer, and aesthetically will be an improvement on TV and in person."

The turf will be "a touch darker," Auld said, which the Rays hope will prevent it from looking washed out, especially on TV. It also features shallower fill, which should keep the blades standing up and create less "splash" when a ball hits.

The Rays are paying the nearly $1 million for the turf and installation. "We continue to invest in Tropicana Field," Auld said. "It's our home, and we want to make it the best venue we can for Major League Baseball."

After looking at samples from four companies, the Rays chose Shaw to provide the fifth surface in 20 seasons under the tilted dome. They began play in 1998 on flat AstroTurf, went to a more grasslike FieldTurf surface in 2000 and an improved version in 2007, then made the 2011 switch to AstroTurf, which was installed for free as part of an MLB sponsorship deal.

The new surface is expected to be ready for players to test the final week of spring training. As part of the deal, the Rays are also installing a turf infield and practice area at their Port Charlotte training facility.

In other Rays news:

•They added catching depth by acquiring Jesus Sucre from Seattle for cash or a player to be named. Sucre, 28, spent parts of the past four seasons with the Mariners, compiling a .209 average and .522 OPS in 90 games, and a reputation as a solid receiver and strong thrower. But he was dropped from their roster last week, and thus didn't require the Rays to make room on their 40-man roster. He joins Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Michael McKenry in competing for playing time until Wilson Ramos' expected summer return from knee surgery.

•Three pitchers were selected to play in the March World Baseball Classic: lefty reliever Jose Alvarado for Venezuela, starter Chris Archer for the United States and closer Alex Colome for the Dominican Republic. Jose De Leon, the prospect acquired from the Dodgers for Logan Forsythe, was named to Puerto Rico's reserve list and could be used in the second or third rounds.

•Shortstop Matt Duffy was cleared for full baseball activities after having his surgically repaired left heel checked Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., by surgeon Bob Anderson, and he joined 20-plus other Rays working out Wednesday in Port Charlotte.

•Free agent right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who will spend this year recovering from Tommy John surgery, remains an intriguing option on a multiyear deal.


  1. 7 minutes ago• HomeTeam
    Volleyball teams around Tampa Bay are in region playoff action this week. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Warriors defeat Springstead 3-0 in the Class 5A region quarterfinals to improve to 24-0.
  2. Thursday night football and more sports on the air.
  3. Jameis Winston's future with the Bucs is likely riding on his performance in Tampa Bay's final 10 games. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Bucs coach says he won’t hold back when giving a recommendation at the end of the season.
  4. Sporting News is honoring the work manager Kevin Cash, left, and general manager Erik Neander, right, did for the 2019 Tampa Bay Rays. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Cash was honored as top AL manager, Neander as MLB Executive of the Year
  5. Hampered by a separated right shoulder, USF quarterback Jordan McCloud managed only 50 passing yards in Saturday's 35-3 loss at Navy. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP
    Nonetheless, offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell could is preparing backup quarterback Kirk Rygol just in case
  6. Not counting his role as the 2012 Indianapolis Colts' interim head coach, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has a .652 winning percentage (30-16) after an open week and .538 (21-18) before. KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH  |  AP
    Arians’ teams have typically played well coming out of an off week. Tampa Bay will need just that to save its season.
  7. Lightning center Cedric Paquette will make his season debut against the Penguins. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The center missed the first eight games of the season with an arm injury
  8. In this July 24, 2016, file photo, Chicago Cubs' David Ross throws out a Milwaukee Brewers batter during a baseball game in Milwaukee. The former catcher reportedly will become the next manager of the Cubs. (AP Photo/Benny Sieu, File) BENNY SIEU  |  AP
    Cubs President Theo Epstein would be banking on the leadership Ross showed during a 15-year playing career.
  9. Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Juwan Taylor (44) grabs the jersey of Florida Gators running back Kadarius Toney (4) while he runs the ball in the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday, October 27, 2018.   BRONTE WITTPENN  | TIMES
    “I think it would be great to get him back out there,” Mullen says of Kadarius Toney’s expected return.
  10. O.J. Howard is one of the few marketable assets the Bucs have at the NFL trade deadline. He's talented, he's being underutilized and Tampa Bay is already paying Cameron Brate $7 million a year at tight end. MONICA HERNDON | Times photo MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    The odds of making the playoffs are already slim, so Tampa Bay needs to consider upgrading their 2020 draft if the right trade opportunity exists.