Saturday, February 04, 2012

Toronto Blue Jays considering installing natural grass, say some players won't sign to play on turf no matter what the money

"With a lot of players, at times, some of them don't want to play on turf, no matter what money."

"The biggest benefit of installing natural grass would be to accommodate the players on the field. The Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays are the only two teams in baseball that use artificial turf, which is considered more hazardous for athletes than grass.

Some players opt against signing with the Blue Jays because they think the unforgiving surface will cause health problems down the road. A perfect example of that took place this offseason, when free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran declined the Blue Jays' offer to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals.

"With a lot of players, at times, some of them don't want to play on turf, no matter what money," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said earlier this week, when asked why his team was unable to sign Beltran....

In the meantime, one thing the Blue Jays definitely won't be doing is installing a dirt infield like the one Tampa Bay currently uses at Tropicana Field. The Rays' turf is a permanent fixture because the facility is used for baseball only, and as a result, the playing surface remains in place all year.

The constant uprooting of the turf in Toronto to accommodate other events is one of the main culprits for the sometimes haggard-looking field. That's something that can't be changed, unless the turf is completely removed.

"Our field goes up and down, and naturally, you have to assume there's going to be some wear and tear," Beeston said. "I don't mean to use this as a weak analogy, but it's like taking your clothes to the dry cleaners. If you take it too many times, they don't look the same as something that's fresh."

The fate of natural grass at Rogers Centre could be closely tied to the future of the Argos. The CFL team's lease at Rogers Centre will expire following the 2012 season, and the organization is reportedly exploring the possibility of playing its home games at nearby BMO Field.

The loss of its second-biggest tenant would saddle Rogers Centre with a dip in revenue, but it would also provide more flexibility for the Blue Jays to make drastic changes to the playing surface. The change can't be done right now, but it has yet to be ruled out for 2013 and beyond.

"Right now, we couldn't do it," Beeston said. "We have the Argos in here, we have rock events in here; strangely enough, we might have a couple of soccer games in here. If you have the soccer, then you have to move the seats. If you move the seats, then you move the turf. It almost has to be permanent, especially for the dirt.

"Whether we can actually pull it off will be a question, but the point is it's something we would like to do.""

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