By Ron Donoho
When the Padres return to San Diego after finishing the March preseason in Peoria, Arizona, there’ll be something different about the dimensions of their ballpark: the outfield wall will be closer to home plate.
That means more home runs.
Will that be a good thing right off the bat? Former Padres star first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez is now playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers - who the Pads face in their April 9 home opener - and there’s a possibility the left-handed slugger from Eastlake will be the first player to knock one out over the shortened fence.
“Yes, we’ve considered that,” says Padres senior vice president for public affairs Sarah Farnsworth. “Obviously, the shorter fences will go both ways.”
The reconstruction of downtown’s Petco Park has been ongoing all winter. Padres president/COO Tom Garfinkel proposed early last season that changes would help boost paltry offensive production, suggesting that higher-scoring games are more exciting to watch and can therefore help boost ticket sales.
Garfinkel was hired by blink-and-you-missed-him Padres owner Jeff Moorad, whose layaway plan to buy the team was nixed by Major League Baseball. Moorad slunk out of town, but Garfinkel was retained when the O’Malley family became majority owners of the team.
The name O’Malley ring a bell? Walter O’Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1957. His son, Peter O’Malley, ran the Dodgers for 50 years. Now, Peter’s sons, Kevin and Brian O’Malley, and nephews Peter and Tom Seidler, are the primary Padres owners. San Diego businessman Ron FowlerChase Headley signed an $8.5-million contract for 2013" alt="Chase Headley signed an $8.5-million contract for 2013" src="https://www.pacificsandiego.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/CH1.jpg” width="247" height="370" /> is acting as the team’s executive chairman.
Under the O’Malley reign, the Dodgers won 13 National League championships and six World Series. in comparison, the Padres have won more games than they lost in only 13 of the last 44 seasons. they’ve been to two World Series, and lost both.
With new ownership at the helm and shorter fences on the field, hopefully our home team will knock it out the park this season.
Field of Dreams
Petco Park modifications
Right-centerfield fence: moves in from 402 feet to 390.
Straightaway right-field fence: moves in from 375 feet to 364; wall lowered to 8-feet-high.
Left-centerfield fence: moves in from 402 feet to 390.
Out-of-town scoreboard: comes off right-field wall and relocates to a new spot above right-field.
Visiting bullpen: coves from right-field foul territory to spot behind the home bullpen, outside left-centerfield fence.
In the Swing
Padres 2013 season highlights
Cactus League: spring training games in Peoria, Arizona, run from February 22 to March 30.
Regular Season Begins: April 1 (at New York Mets).
Home Opener: April 9 (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers).
Player to Watch: Chase Headley. The 28- year-old third baseman won a 2012 Gold Glove, and hit .308 with 23 homers and 73 RBI after the All-Star break.
Others to Watch: shortstop Everth Cabrera; first-baseman Yonder Alonso; pitcher Luke Gregerson.
Player You Can’t Watch: catcher Yasmani Grandal will serve a 50-game suspension for getting caught using a banned substance.
Friday Nights: Park at the Park pre-game parties, featuring craft beer and wine.
The New York Yankees: first-ever regular season series in San Diego for the Bronx Bombers is August 2-4.