Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - While the Minnesota Twins are preparing to take the field on the south side of Chicago for Opening Day against the White Sox, the Twins ground crew continues their hard work back at Target Field furthering their preparation for next Monday's home opener against the Athletics.
Monday morning, head groundskeeper Larry DiVito met with the local media to give a bit of an update on the current status and plans of the playing surface at Target Field.
"We're right on track," DiVito said. "We've complete two of the three phases of getting the field ready [for the home opener]."
The first phase, removing the snow off the top of the translucent, permeable tarp was completed near the middle of March. Measurements showed about 8-12 inches of snow in left field where the sun regularly shines and upwards of two-feet in the often shaded right field half of the stadium.
On the turf, the snow was mainly removed by hand (shovels and snow blowers) while the snow covering the seating areas was melted with blasts of 120 degree water from area hoses.
As for the condition of the field's grass, DiVito was pleasantly surprised when the tarp was finally removed.
"Between the consistent snow cover and having the heating system set at 33-34 degrees, the cold had no effect," DiVito explained.
"Last year was worse. We had to open on April 1st and had a lot of ice damage. This year the extended snow cover made for more snow removal for us but it also insulated the grass...snow cover as long as it’s just snow is usually a pretty good thing for the grass."
With the snow removed, phase two of the field preparations kicked off without a hitch. The second phase, highlighted by the increase in field heat to near sixty degrees, is focused on waking the dormant grass from it's winter hibernation.
Phase three kicked off over the weekend as the grounds crew continues to work on the details of the playing field and taking it from a playable college surface to one that is suitable and acceptable for Major League games.
"We've still got to grate the outfield warning track," DiVito explained. "We've had some [construction] lifts out there and some projects going on. We've got to let the rain hit tonight, get the frost out in right field, spike it up add material to grate it."
At this point, there's not much that can get in the way of the Twins from having the field ready to go for next week's home opener.
"The only thing that could throw us off at this point is a blizzard," DiVito joked hesitantly.
Safe to say that his fingers will be tightly crossed as the current weekend forecast is calling for 4-8 inches of snow between Friday and Saturday.
Other Stadium Additions:
Along with the field condition update, Senior Director of Corporate Communications Kevin Smith threw in a few notes on other stadium updates that are in the final stages of production.
2014 at Target Field will now include...
- The Twins Digital Clubhouse - Located on the US Bank level of the left field stands, this new digitally outfitted clubhouse will allow fans to interact through social media avenues, check fantasy baseball scores and get an all new experience on a trip to the ballpark.
- Boosted WiFi - A continued problem from year-to-year at Target Field, the team has once again boosted the WiFi signal in an attempt to better the fan experience and the stadium.
- New turf on Center-Field ledge - Remember where the pine trees used to be out in center field? Upon removal of the trees, the ledge in front of the batter's eye sat flat and unused. New for 2014, the shelf will feature mounded grass that will aesthetically change very little but will be visible from the plate and in the grandstand.