"With so many events last year, we were in the position to put down a new infield, and at the time there was some discussion that went on internally on if there were adjustments we'd like to make," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Typically this has been an infield where there's so much expanse of dirt or exposed dirt. We looked around Major League Baseball, saw some different styles and just wanted to put a little more grass in for continuity of a ground ball."
The new cutouts are 13 feet, compared to 21 before.
Before making the changes within the past few weeks, the Red Sox consulted second baseman Dustin Pedroia, the senior member of the infield.
"It was more collaborative, but Pedey had a couple thoughts that he expressed," said Farrell. "When we knew we were going to get the new infield we reached out to them to see, 'Hey, is there anything you'd like to see different, the way it plays?' We're challenged by the early weather up here in New England, so if there was a way we could add to the composition of the clay or the size of the cutouts on the infield, that was pretty much where the conversation centered around."
Infield instructor Brian Butterfield explained how the changes might help.
"Well, I think when you start dealing with more grass, I think it's easier for fielders," said Butterfield. "Usually that second or third hop that hits the dirt, the ball accelerates and everything gets quicker. Whatever is good for the infielders is good for me. When Dustin Pedroia says something about an infield that is good or an infield that is rough, that's gospel to me.
"I'm not the one that's playing on it. And he came out and he took his ground balls early and he said, 'I like it.' I walked away and said, 'That's good enough for me.' When Dustin Pedroia says he likes it, I think we all should probably like it. It looks good."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.