Mariners will move in outfield walls
SEATTLE – Tired of seeing fly balls die in a cavernous outfield and free-agent sluggers choose more hitter-friendly settings, the Seattle Mariners are bringing in the fences at Safeco Field.
The team said Tuesday they will move in the fences for the 2013 season after years of debate on the impact one of the more spacious outfields in baseball was having on their offense.
“It’s all about just the ballpark playing fair and I think they’ve done a great job with the changes they are planning on making. I just think it’s a win-win situation,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “I think it’s fantastic for our younger position players, it’s a more attractive location now for players outside the organization who might consider coming this direction, so I think it’s a good decision.”
The biggest change will come in the left-center field alley, where the fence will move in as much as 17 feet. The left-center power alley is currently 390 feet, but will be at 378 next season. From there, instead of a rounded fence, the wall will move straight out to its deepest point at 405 feet, 4 feet shorter than now. The straighter line of the fence will lead to the 17-foot change.
The left-field corner will also see a significant change, with the removal of the hand-operated scoreboard that raised the fence to 16 feet. The fence height will be a uniform 8 feet from one foul pole to the other and the hand-operated scoreboard will be relocated to a location to be determined.
The work on changing the dimensions is expected to begin soon after the conclusion of the season. The left-field and right-field lines are the only two listed dimensions that won’t change.
The deepest point in the park – just to the left of center field – will move in 4 feet to 405, while straightaway center will be 401. Right-center field will also come in 4 feet to 381.
This is the first change to the dimensions since the ballpark opened in 1999.
The decision was met by universal praise from Mariners hitters, who at times have acknowledged the mental tricks played on their minds after seeing a well-struck ball that would be a homer in nearly every park in baseball become a long flyout in Seattle.
“It’s just one of those things where I think it will be a big confidence booster for everybody,” Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak said.