Reports say that the MLB will keep an eye on the new AstroTurf playing surface at Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Installed before the 2015 season, the new synthetic turf playing surface has already drawn concern over abnormal bounces and action from balls.
#MLB is actively monitoring the turf situation at Rogers Centre due to irregular bounces on the surface, source says.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) April 15, 2015
Even more concerning is what happens after a ball bounces and how much the artificial turf and rubber pellet infill slows it down. In a report from the Toronto Star, Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista commented on the difference.
“It’s weird, but we’re going to have to adjust,” Bautista says. “It’s definitely a lot slower than it was in the past and a lot slower than any other artificial turf I’ve ever laid my feet on.”
Kenny Gilman, vice president of AstroTurf, told the National Post he believes the turf will speed back up after two to three months because of the process the Blue Jays of removing the artificial turf when the team is on the road. The machines remove the turf in strips that are 15 feet wide and approximately 100 feet long and winds them up into 7,000-pound rolls.
“It’s being rolled up under extreme pressure, so that will help to compact the infill and it’ll also help mat down the grass fibers that are standing up right now and which are contributing to the slow ball roll,” Gilman says.
The Blue Jays plan on using the turf through the 2017 season and hope to install natural grass and dirt infield for the 2018 season, according to bluebirdbanter.com.
The baseball franchise is paying the University of Guelph $600,000 to fund a year-long feasibility study into the affects of growing turfgrass under the dome of the Rogers Centre.