The Texas Rangers have yet to officially announce their decision on the type of playing surface they will use at new Tax Hike Friendly Ballpark, but sources indicate the plan is still to go with artificial grass.
The desire to use the new place as a multi-use venue for concerts, football games and any other type of event is driving the Rangers’ desire to go with a synthetic field. Fake grass is hard on the body, but it’s easier on the wallet.
And if you hate this idea, there is a group of people who detest it even more: The players.
There are two other stadiums in MLB that feature synthetic grass – Toronto and Tampa. Players hate ’em, both.
Despite all of the advances from the knee-shredding days of AstroTurf to the improved state of “sport field,” the consensus is nearly universal from the players who run around on it every day.
So don’t take it from me. Listen to them.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus: “Real grass all day long. When I play on (artificial grass), I feel it my hamstrings and my back, for sure.”
Rangers catcher Robinson Chrinios: “I’d say grass. When I play on turf, I feel it in my legs and my back. Takes about two or three days (to get over it.)”
Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun: “I’ve played on (artificial grass) twice and I don’t feel there really is a difference. Maybe the ball comes out faster.”
Rangers outfielder Ryan Rua: “You don’t see it very much in minor league stadiums, but it’s different for sure for first-time guys up in Toronto and Tampa. Maybe guys who play there get used to it, but when you’re on it the first time you notice it. It’s tougher on your legs and your back.
“When you’re in the outfield, you have to be aware of the bounces. The ball kicks off much higher on that surface. It’s faster. Grass slows the ball down. You’ll find the majority of the players prefer grass.”
Rangers first baseman Joey Gallo: “Grass, all the way. When you play on that fake grass, your knees hurt like hell, your hips and your back, too.
“When we had that series against Houston in Tampa (the ’17 series that was moved to Florida because of Hurricane Harvey), and I was playing outfield and my feet and my back were killing me. Guys kept coming up with lower body injuries. That was the series (Adrian Beltre) got hurt. I definitely felt it for a few days. A lot of the guys were talking about it.
“I don’t think anybody wants artificial turf, especially outfielders. You can feel it gets hotter. You can definitely feel it on the bottom of your feet.”
Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara: “When we played that series against Houston (in Tampa), I could definitely feel it in my knees. (Former Rangers outfielder) Carlos Gomez and a lot of the guys said they didn’t like it. That it hurt. I don’t like it.”
Rangers catcher Curt Casali (he played last season in Tampa): “I can’t speak for them, but I know when I was in Tampa the outfielders all had a problem with it. All of them struggled with it. Personally, I didn’t love it.
“Because there is no moisture for the dirt, it feels different. It’s dry and you can’t get a grip. I know they wet it down, but it dries up.
“Real grass is just softer and slower. If you just stand on it for 5 minutes, you can feel it in your back.
“I hope you’re wrong on this and it’s grass.”
Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields: “On artificial surface, your cleats get stuck in the grass and the dirt. Real grass has give. It’s softer. The game on real grass just feels more natural.
“I remember the first time I ran on (artificial grass) was during a pre-draft workout in Toronto. I was running in the outfield and the first time I tried to sprint I nearly fell over. My cleats got stuck.
“And when I play on it, my shins really bug me. Your legs just get stuck.
“I know the artificial surface is better now than it was before, and it’s getting better, but it’s not grass. I really hope they don’t put in (fake grass) at the new stadium. If it was up to me, it would be grass.”
It’s not up to Delino – or any other player.
The decision hasn’t been announced, which means we can expect artificial grass.
Players, get the ice bags ready. – BY MAC ENGEL, Star Telegram