Its crazy to think about it if you came to baseball in the 70s and early 80s, but now there are only two parks in Major League Baseball with artificial turf: Rogers Centre in Toronto and Tropicana Field in St. Pete. Within a few years there will be only one.
From the Globe and Mail, news that the CFL’s Argonauts — the biggest reason they keep turf in Rogers Centre — are going to be out of the joint by 2018 at the latest, and that it seems like the Jays are going to put grass on the field. It’ll be hard, but not impossible:
“Nothing’s impossible. Everything can be engineered … but it’s not as simple as trucking in dirt and laying sod down,” said Steve Schiedel, vice-president of Greenhorizons Group of Farms Ltd., a Cambridge, Ont.-based company that installed a temporary grass field in Rogers Centre during the summer of 2010, for a pair of soccer matches. Because Rogers Centre is surrounded symmetrically by high walls to support the retractable roof, special lighting may be required to stimulate grass growth. But the biggest hurdle is lack of drainage.
For that they’ll dig up the concrete below and add a drainage system. Then: grass. Hopefully.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.