Mets eyeing Citi dimension changes

Updated: September 21, 2011, 9:38 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

ST. LOUIS -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson already is armed with extensive studies about the effects of various dimension changes on home runs at Citi Field, with an eye toward making alterations for the 2012 season.

Three-year-old Citi Field has allowed an average of 1.32 homers per game this season, which exceeds only San Francisco's AT&T Park and San Diego's Petco Park in the National League.

"We're taking a very serious look at it, and done some analyses, and I would think sometime in October we'll make a decision as to exactly what we're going to do," Alderson said.

Alderson added changes "won't be subtle."

One motivation would be to make the ballpark more fair for hitters.

Alderson cited a statistic that 1.9 percent of balls in play are homers at Citi Field, versus a major league average of 2.5 percent across baseball. The Yankee Stadium average is 3.6 percent of balls in play are homers.

Alderson also noted there have been only eight homers hit to the opposite field by left-handed hitters in three years at Citi Field.

Any change, the GM said, most certainly would involve a reduction of the 16-foot wall in left field -- whether the wall stays at the same distance from home plate and a line is painted at eight feet, or a new fence is erected at a shorter distance. The existing left-field wall is structural and must remain intact.

"We're not looking for an advantage with respect to home runs versus visitors' home runs," Alderson said. "At the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there as opposed to a team that comes in for three games and doesn't really have to alter an approach or think about it too much and leaves."

Another motivation, the GM added, is that offense sells.

"To some extent it's a question of entertainment," Alderson said. "The hardcore baseball fan enjoys the 2-1, the 3-2 (score). We're appealing to a little broader segment. I think offense is appealing. Offense sells."

Other changes likely to occur include moving in the right-field fence in what is currently referred to as the "Mo Zone" nook.

Third baseman David Wright, whose home run totals nosedived with the move from Shea Stadium to Citi Field for the 2009 season, would welcome changes.

"I don't know if relief is the right word," Wright said. "I think it's a great idea. I think when you go play in a park, you'd like for it to be fair. So I'm excited that's going to happen."

Alderson noted the premium for outfield defense naturally would diminish with decreasing the dimensions. He noted the area of the playing surface at Citi Field is currently 4-5 percent greater than the major league average.

"It's certainly been done in other ballparks," Alderson said about dimension modifications. "The one that jumps immediately to mind is Comerica (in Detroit), where they made some pretty significant changes almost immediately."

Asked if reducing the outfield area would decrease free-agent-to-be Jose Reyes' triples should the speedster re-sign, Alderson suggested it would not.

"He might have to slide at third base a little more often," the GM quipped.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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