Buchanan: After 21 years trying to make natural grass work, the Diamondbacks are going to synthetic turf

From Zach Buchanan at The Athletic on October 12, 2018:

The​ latest strain​ was called Platinum Paspallum, and Derrick​ Hall​ had high hopes​ for it.​ Whereas previous strains​ of​ sod​​ withered into brown patches in the outfield over the course of the blistering Arizona summer, this strain had retained its green hue all throughout the 2018 season. It was a positive sign for the Diamondbacks president and CEO. Perhaps, at long last, they’d found a strain of natural grass for Chase Field that could stand up to the elements and rigors of 81 home games.

But that was just the eye test, and there were others to conduct. When Hall sought feedback from the players, grounds crew and coaching staff, his enthusiasm waned. The grass may have been greener literally, but not figurately. The surface played hard, the players said. The sod was loose, and slips were common.

“Very fast, very hard,” Hall said, “and, quite honestly, dangerous. We can easily say that we’ve witnessed games that were lost because of the field condition, players that were lost to injury because of the playing surface. That should never be the case.”

Hall considers himself a purist who loves a natural surface, but he and the Diamondbacks are giving up on trying to make natural grass work at Chase Field. This offseason, the Diamondbacks will install a brand-new synthetic turf system from Georgia-based Shaw Sports Turf designed specifically for baseball. It’s called B1K (Batting One Thousand) and Hall considers it to be state-of-the-art. The Diamondbacks wouldn’t be abandoning natural grass if it weren’t.

Read the full article here (subscription required): https://theathletic.com/585102/2018/10/12/after-21-years-trying-to-make-natural-grass-work-the-diamondbacks-are-going-to-synthetic-turf/

Originally published: October 12, 2018. Last Updated: October 12, 2018.