Sydney Cricket Ground has undergone a transformation from a cricket pitch into a baseball stadium for the 2014 MLB Opening Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
After arriving in Sydney, the Dodgers took the field for the first time for a workout and left with an impression that the game could favor one aspect of the game more than usual.
According to Mark Saxon of ESPN LA, the famed cricket pitch could lead to runs and plenty of them with an endorsement from second baseman Dee Gordon:
But you never know how a field will play until they start playing on it. The weather here is warm with a bit of ocean humidity and gentle sea breezes that seemed to waft balls over the fence in batting practice. Even balls not struck squarely were carrying a long way. Temperature at first pitch Sunday afternoon figures to be about 84 degrees.
Dee Gordon came off the field and said, “There are going to be a lot of homers hit here.”
The dimensions are fairly normal for a baseball stadium with the foul lines 328 feet away, power alleys 370 feet away and center field 400 feet away. There’s plenty of foul ground that could neutralize the way the ball carries; however, there was another reason that the first impression was that the field favored offense.
Apparently, the field is quicker than most stadiums with manager Don Mattingly adding some of his thoughts via Saxon:
The part of the field that is used as a cricket pitch here is hard, so line drives in between outfielders figure to scoot past them to the walls. That could lead to yet more extra-base hits. The infield also was hard, which could lead to more hits overall.
“It seems fast,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s carrying today. I don’t know if it’s the wind or not, but it’s good for offense, for sure.”
The Dodgers will be sending out reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw and left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu with hopes that their pitching will be enough to counter any stadium advantages. As far as offense, their lineup feature more than a few players that can do damage offensively and will try to use the field to help them out.
ICYMI: Clayton Kershaw had this to say about the Dodgers trip to Australia