The San Diego Padres recently announced plans to move the fences in at pitcher-friendly Petco Park by approximately 10 feet from the indentation in the right-field corner all the way to right-center field — an area covering roughly 30 percent of the outfield — as well as lowering the wall itself from 10 feet high to eight.
Thanks to the team president and CEO, Tom Garfinkel, as well as the power of Twitter, we can bring you the first photos of the renovation project and a little bit of a sneak preview of what the new and improved — at least from a left-handed hitter's perspective — Petco will look like when it's unveiled in April.
When looking at the photos, pay no attention to the temporary construction wall. Obviously the fences aren't coming in that far. But you can clearly see where the new warning track will be in the photo above. In the photo below, you get a glimpse at the construction of the visitor's bullpen, which will now be located above the home bullpen in left-center field.
According to Garfinkel, along with the obvious attempt to offset the advantages pitchers held at the cavernous park, the relocation of that visitor's bullpen was a determining factor in making the changes because there have been safety concerns with it being jammed in that small space on the playing field down the right-field line.
"Petco Park will still be a pitcher's ballpark," Garfinkel said, "but the changes in the outfield dimensions will eliminate some of the extreme bias. When a ball is crushed, it should be a home run. That didn't happen at Petco Park, particularly on balls hit toward right-center and left-center.
"One of the reasons for lowering the fence in right was to add the dimension of the great catch at the fence to the list of possible plays at Petco Park. And moving the visiting bullpen from the playing field addresses a safety issue."
When renovations are complete, the deepest part of the park in the right-field power alley will be reduced from 402 feet to 390, which is the most significant distance change. If you can believe it, that spot was actually 411 feet when the ballpark opened in 2004. Also, the out-of-town scoreboard which was featured prominently on the right-field wall will be relocated as a part of the project. It's unknown where exactly that will fit in when the dust settles.
Big BLS H/N: Eye on Baseball