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Blue Jays looking to install real grass playing surface by 2018

On Wednesday, Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston reaffirmed the team's desire to install a real grass playing surface at Rogers Centre before the 2018 season.

According to Bluebird Banter, Beeston first acknowledged these plans back in September when it was announced the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League would not have their lease at Rogers Centre renewed beyond the 2017 season. Until the Argonauts are officially gone, the current Grass3D artificial surface will remain, so that puts the Blue Jays on track to have real grass by the aforementioned 2018 season.

However, the possibility exists that the Argonauts will find new ownership and a new stadium before the lease runs out, allowing the Blue Jays to make the switch sooner.

If and when the change occurs, it will be the fourth different playing surface at the former SkyDome since it opened in 1989. They started with Astroturf, which was standard for domes and retractable-roof stadiums at the time. Eventually they switched to FieldTurf as that gained popularity in MLB and the NFL before moving to the Grass3D in recent years.

The climate and retractable roof should allow the switch to be a success, though neither are what you'd call ideal under the circumstances.

As Mike Axisa of Eye on Baseball notes, the key may be limiting the number or even eliminating non-baseball events at the facility during the season to ensure the grass gets the best possible care. There's no official word on how a change would impact the stadium's booking of outside events, but it certainly seems advisable to back off them. They'll have plenty of time to sort that out though.

By the way, speaking of scenery changes in Toronto, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting the Blue Jays are getting serious about pursuing one of the starting pitchers still available on the market. That includes Ubaldo Jimenez Ervin Santana Bronson Arroyo and even former Blue Jay A.J. Burnett

The Blue Jays have R.A. Dickey Mark Buehrle Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ locked into their 2014 rotation. Adding another solid option to that mix would give them a very formidable starting five.

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Blue Jays looking to install real grass playing surface by 2018Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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