Marlins won't move in fences
MIAMI -- The hard-to-reach outfield fences at the Miami Marlins' new ballpark will remain that way.
Some have argued the fences should be moved in because home runs are too difficult to hit, but Marlins president David Samson says the ballpark plays the way it was designed.
"We have no reason to think about doing anything with the fences," Samson said Tuesday. "The park is playing fair. It's a pitcher-friendly park, but there's an ability to hit home runs."
The outfield is substantially bigger than at the Marlins' former home, with power alleys of 386 feet in left-center field and 392 in right-center. In the first 15 games at the ballpark, more than a dozen flyballs were caught on the warning track.
"Here's how we built it: We want it to be pitcher-friendly, but fair to hitters who get all of it," Samson said. "No cheapies. If you get it, we want it to go."
Frustrated hitters and Arizona manager Kirk Gibson have said the park is too big. Going into Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh, there had been 20 homers by both teams in the Marlins' 15 home games, and 33 homers in their 20 road games.
Marlins pitchers had given up 14 homers on the road and only seven at home.
"We're very happy with how the ballpark is playing," Samson said.
The Marlins are also happy with attendance in their 36,000-seat home. Through Monday they were averaging 30,180 fans per game, which ranks 15th in the majors. The Marlins averaged 19,007 per game last year, and ranked last in the NL in attendance each of the past seven seasons.
Samson said crowds have been even better than it might appear when looking at the stands, because of the wide, inviting concourses.
"There are more people milling than we even expected -- thousands of people at any time," he said. The nightclub beyond the left-field fence is selling out, he said.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made his first visit to the Marlins' new home this week and was delighted by the big, noisy crowds.
"I love the park," he said. "Compared to where they were, this is a great upgrade. There's great electricity."
There are a few flaws, however. The turf in center and right field has gone brown because of insufficient sunlight, and workers continue experimenting with possible solutions. They re-sodded once, and a different kind of grass may be installed for next season, but artificial turf isn't being considered, Samson said.
The biggest challenge has been to regulate the air-conditioning throughout the ballpark. Because of unusually warm spring weather, the retractable roof has been open for only four games and will likely be closed the rest of the season -- or until October, at least.
The Marlins lifted their no-umbrella policy, Samson said, after a fan pointed out an umbrella can come in handy in South Florida on the walk from the car to the ballpark.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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