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Padres consider altering dimensions at Petco

Padres consider altering dimensions at Petco

Padres consider altering dimensions at Petco
SAN DIEGO -- Padres interim CEO Tom Garfinkel said on Tuesday that the team is considering modifications to the dimensions of Petco Park so that it doesn't suppress offense the way it has since the downtown ballpark opened in 2004.

"We are studying the effects of the park on offensive production. We're open-minded to making some changes if it makes sense," Garfinkel said. "We're looking at a lot of different information at what might be appropriate.

"If we do something, we want to make sure we do it right. But we are open-minded to take a hard look at it."

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According to park factors -- the measurement of how pitcher-friendly or hitter-friendly ballparks are -- Petco Park ranked last among 30 Major Leagues ballparks in runs in four of its first six seasons, and 26th in 2010, 28th in '11 and '04 and 29th in '06.

"The 1-0, 2-1, 2-0 games can be really exciting ballgames, too," Garfinkel said. "But not night after night after night. We've heard a lot from fans. Ultimately, when a pitcher leaves one out over the plate and a hitter crushes it, the hitter should be rewarded. And in this park, that doesn't always happen.

"I'm not sure that's the way the game is intended to be played."

Garfinkel said any alterations would take place following the season. He wouldn't say which area of the ballpark would likely be modified the most, although Padres catcher Nick Hundley has a particular spot in mind.

"There's really only one spot in this park that's excessively big, and that's right-center," Hundley said. "I'm not in charge, but I think if they did something, they would do it there."

Former Padres general manager Kevin Towers used to call that area in right-center field "Death Valley." The dimensions to right-center were originally 411 feet until after the 2005 season when a change was made, bringing in the fence to 400 feet.

The dimensions of Petco Park are 336 down the left-field line, 401 feet to left-center, 396 feet to center field, 400 feet going out toward right-center, 382 feet to straightaway right field and 322 feet down the right-field line, which is, oddly enough, a place where not a lot of balls are hit.

But, as Hundley said, the Padres have cultivated an advantage for themselves at Petco Park because the strengths of the teams he's played on have been run prevention -- pitching and defense. Take the 2010 season, when the Padres' pitching staff had 13 of its 20 shutouts at Petco Park.

"It's a catch-22 situation because we're a team that's built on our pitching. If our pitching starts to suffer because more balls are going over the fence, then it's detrimental," Hundley said.

There are issues at Petco Park few could have predicted -- how the marine layer would affect the flight of a ball and how the numerous condominiums and other buildings outside the ballpark would change the jet stream.

But one thing is for certain, Garfinkel said: the team won't rush to a hasty decision on any changes to the ballpark. He has already had conversations with general manager Josh Byrnes as well as manager Bud Black about it. Both are agreeable to changes.

"It's going to be a pitchers' park no matter what we do. But I do think it's too extreme," Garfinkel said. "I've talked to Buddy and Josh, and they're both open-minded to making changes if they're the right changes."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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