The team that used to play on the worst surface in professional sports will need to adjust to Tropicana Field’s artificial surface, all-dirt infield and unholy white roof.
Another day, another article, another reason to second guess my decision to pick the Phillies in six. Over on the Phillies official Web site, Ken Mandel has a piece on the team’s preparations in St. Petersburg.
“Infield practice took on an educational tone,” Mandel writes, "with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley waiting until the last second to snag grounders otherwise considered routine. Studying the bounces on artificial turf or when they went from turf to dirt became important lessons.
“'It was pretty bouncy,” Rollins said. 'It didn't stop bouncing when it got on the dirt. Sometimes, it didn't bounce at all. When they put some water on it, naturally, it will bounce a little more.' Coaches later wheeled out the popup machine for drills, allowing players new to the foreign Tropicana Field the chance to pick up balls against the roof's white backdrop. 'There's a lot of action going on up there,' Rollins said. 'The bars up there, catwalks and lights, more lights and more catwalks. I don't think it will be an issue. We're going to have night games, so the sun won't be shining through and making the roof lighter. But if you don't pick up the ball right away, it will be tough to find it.'
The Phils haven’t played a game on turf all season and only a handful of games indoors. Tampa was a 57-24 team at their unnatural home haven, the best home record in baseball.