The Phillies are going back to a Kentucky bluegrass infield

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

For the 2016 season, the Phillies have decided to go back to playing on a Kentucky bluegrass infield, moving away from Bermuda grass, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports. It’s a change that doesn’t seem like much of a big deal at all, but Salisbury talked to some Phillies players and coaches who are very happy about the change.

From Citizens Bank Park’s opening in 2004 through the 2011 season, the Phillies played with a Kentucky bluegrass infield, but they resodded the infield with Bermuda grass because it holds up better to summer heat and would withstand all of the commotion when the stadium hosted concerts. While it made life easier for the grounds crew, utilityman Freddy Galvis felt that the new infield grass was “one of the quickest in baseball”. Bench coach Larry Bowa said, “It was like lightning. If the ball wasn’t hit right at you, you weren’t getting it.”

Citizens Bank Park has a reputation as a very hitter-friendly park. While the degree to which it has been hitter-friendly has been overstated, it was the sixth-most homer-happy park last season, according to ESPN’s park factors. It ranked sixth in 2014 and first in ’13 as well.

The Phillies are trying to focus on inducing more ground balls, and that will be aided by making the infield more comfortable for infielders. Pitching coach Bob McClure said, “[The new infield] is more conducive to what we’re trying to do. Pitching and defense can keep you in a lot of games.”

Salisbury notes that the outfield will remain sodded with Bermuda grass.

Who knew that grass was such an important consideration?

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).