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?