Fans in outfield get new view at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Maddon was greeted at Tropicana Field on Monday by the sight of two panels of padding missing from the left-center-field fence.

The Rays had replaced the sections of padding with a chain-link fence, leaving an open section where fans can stand and watch the game through the outfield wall, although no flash photography will be permitted.

The Tampa Bay manager said he hadn't known about the change, and wasn't sure of the reason for it, since he hadn't had time to consider it.

"Maybe they have researched it, the guys upstairs. I honestly don't know what to say, because I'm as surprised as everybody else," Maddon said, "I'm seeing it for the first time."

Maddon said he could see that section being disruptive to left-handed hitters who have it in their sight-line as the ball comes out of the pitcher's hand, or distracting in general because of the movement of fans behind the wall. He said he was curious to see how it would play out.

"I mean, again, I don't know what it's going to look like for a left-handed hitter," Maddon said. "Seriously. It's low, although the ball's gonna be coming from up higher. There's nothing to compare that with on a Major League level at any ballpark, I don't think."

He continued, "Even movement, you just talk about movement. The ball doesn't have to come out of there, but movement in there could be disruptive -- I think. I don't know yet. I'm gonna hear about it tonight, I'm sure."

David Adler is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.