Bye-bye sliding pits: Rogers Centre to install a full-dirt infield

Associated Press

When Astroturf debuted in Houston, it was still limited to the outfield and the portions of the infield where grass had always been in major league ballparks.

But in 1970, with the opening of Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, someone realized that some efficiencies could be achieved (i.e. money could be saved and changeovers to a football stadium) if the dirt was eliminated between the bases and, instead, sliding pits were installed. Little dirt sections surrounding the bases, but not in the baseline proper. Sliding pits, became the standard in artificial turf ballparks from then on. Eventually, of course, artificial turf in baseball stadiums started to disappear to where, as of now, only the Blue Jays and Rays play on the fake grass.

The Rays, however, got rid of the sliding pits 15 years ago and have played with a full dirt infield for most of their existence. The Blue Jays, however, still sharing their ballpark with football teams and other events, have kept their sliding pits. That is, until this year. They announced yesterday that a full dirt infield will be installed starting next week and will be in place for the 2016 season:

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This marks the first time since June of 1970, when the Reds left Crosley Field for Riverfront, that there are no sliding pits in baseball. Eventually, if the Jays can figure out the logistics of their long-discussed conversion to a grass infield and if the Rays can ever figure out how to build a new park, the era of artificial turf will be completely over.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.