Angel Stadium comes up with a power play
The expectations will be higher at Angel Stadium this season.
The requirements for hitting a home run to right field, however, will be lower, a move team officials apparently believe works in the Angels’ favor.
In reconfiguring the area where the out-of-town scoreboard has been positioned, a yellow line will be added at a height of eight feet, down from the previous height of 18 feet.
The line will run from the existing outfield gate to the point where the wall changes angle in center field.
The reconfiguration is part of the team’s installation of scoreboards, a design change meant to enhance the fan experience. But more went into lowering the home run boundary than just aesthetics.
General manager Billy Eppler said the team “ran through some analyses internally” that evidently indicated the change would enhance also the Angels’ potential home-field advantage.
He refused to offer specifics, explaining only that the team’s goal was to “create an environment that had a little more balance,” meaning the balance between being a more pitcher- or hitter-friendly ballpark.
Though it could be speculated that the change was a way to further entice the left-handed-hitting Shohei Ohtani, Eppler said talks about lowering the boundary began in July, four months before it was known Ohtani would be available.
“It’s the same line for both teams,” manager Mike Scioscia said when asked whether he approved of the change. “So we’re OK.”
Pace of arguments?
Designed to quicken the pace of play for the sake of fans, baseball’s new restriction on mound visits could increase the game’s entertainment value in a completely different way.
“What’s going to happen is you’re going to have more back and forth with the umpires,” catcher Martin Maldonado said. “Maybe the umpire will say something you don’t like and now you’re arguing with the umpire and you may get thrown out of the game.”
Manfred announced this week that teams will be limited to six mound visits per nine innings this season.
“I don’t think that’s going to affect [game times],” Maldonado said. “What they should do is make replay faster. The replay takes forever. Sometimes, if you are watching at home, they already know if he’s safe, and we are waiting 30, 45 seconds or a minute to get that call.”
Ohtani’s next bullpen session is scheduled for Thursday. The Angels have a plan for when he’ll make his Cactus League debut, but they aren’t prepared to share it publicly yet. … JC Ramirez pitched to live hitters for the first time and reported no problems. He underwent stem cell therapy in September for a damaged elbow ligament.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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