The reports the Angels have gotten on the new artificial surface the Toronto Blue Jays installed this season “have not been great,” said Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team begins a four-game series in the Rogers Center on Monday.
Players have complained that the turf is too soft, perhaps making it a little easier on the bodies of those playing on it but slowing down some ground balls that might otherwise go through holes in the infield for hits.
No matter how much softer the turf is, it will still be much harder than natural grass and will present lineup challenges for Scioscia, who will rotate several regulars through the designated hitter spot and perhaps give one or two players full days off in order to prevent injuries.
“When you play on that surface all the time, there’s a familiarity to it, your body adapts to it,” Scioscia said before the Angels’ series finale against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards. “But when you pop in there for three or four days, there’s no doubt there’s a toll it takes that you want to make sure you get over.”
Scioscia will try to keep as many of his effective hitters from a struggling offense in the lineup as he can. Mike Trout has started every game in center field this season, and Kole Calhoun has started all but four games, when he had right-calf tightness in early April, in right field. Both will probably get a DH day in Toronto.
First baseman Albert Pujols, who has been nursing a tight left hamstring, will certainly get one and maybe two DH days in Toronto. Third baseman David Freese will likely get a DH day or a day off.
Sometimes, the effects of playing three or four games on artificial turf are not felt until afterward, when lower backs, hamstrings and calves can tighten up or become sore.
“We’ll get acclimated to it tomorrow and see how it goes,” Scioscia said. “We might just do batting practice in the cages later in the series to get guys off their feet.”