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Construction Planned for Petco Park

Free agent position players traditionally have avoided Petco like the plague

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    As Greg Maddux famously said in a 1990's commercial, "Chicks dig the long ball" That's true of the majority of baseball fans these days.

    It's also why, for the last few years, Padres fans have rallied for the outfield fences at Petco Park to be moved in. The fan base has grown tired of watching games in an offensive vortex.

    The team has been listening. The Padres are moving in the fences.

    Construction will begin this week on major changes to Petco Park, in the hopes of making the extreme pitcher's park more hospitable to hitters.

    "We became convinced our ballpark was an outlier," said Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler. "It was the most difficult ballpark to score runs in. We feel the move will still have us be a pitcher's park, but we're going to be more fair in terms of how the ballpark plays."

    To try and fix the problem, the team announced plans Monday to move in portions of the outfield wall affecting right, right center and left center field. The most dramatic change will be in left center, where the fence will go from 402 feet to 390 feet.

    The stretch from the right field porch to the right center gap will also be lowered to under 8 feet, matching the height of the wall in left field.

    "Players know what's fair and what's not," said Padres President and CEO Tom Garfinkel. "When they crush a ball that would be out of 29 other parks, and it's not out here, they know that. We wanted to make it more fair from that standpoint."

    Garfinkel also said a study on the impact of moving the fences was already underway before this year's ownership change, so it's been on their mind for a while.

    Since Petco Park opened in 2004, it's never finished higher than 26th in runs allowed. It's finished last four times. Moving in the fences will undoubtedly change that, perhaps even allowing the Padres to lure more free agent position players who traditionally have avoided Petco like the plague.

    However, the Padres won't be the only ones scoring more runs. Opposing teams offenses will also benefit, which means the Padres pitching staff loses an advantage. So, how do the guys on the mound feel about the changes?

    "I think pitchers and hitters understand dimensions," said Padres manager Bud Black, himself a former MLB pitcher and pitching coach. "I think all our players will be happy because I think all 25 guys will understand this is the thing to do. Pitchers will understand it. Hitters will be happy."

    Other significant changes include relocating the out-of-town scoreboard (previously located in right field), and moving the visiting team's bullpen from down the right field line to behind the Padres bullpen beyond the left center field fence and out of play, a move Major League Baseball applauded because it eliminates a potential player safety risk.

    If you're interested in seeing what it all looks like, you're in luck. While construction is going on, the Park at the Park will remain open during the day.

    All the changes will be in place by the 2013 home opener on Tuesday, April 9 against the Dodgers.