By David Rutz
Vanderbilt’s seen plenty of the FieldTurf of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium, having played there at last year’s NCAA Regional as well as during the 2009 regular season. The synthetic fielding surface also is used by the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays in Major League Baseball, as well as Louisville’s football team at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The Commodores have played on the surface back home too.
“Not too big a deal, really,” said Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin. “We go on the turf quite a bit in the (John Rich practice field) because of the amount of rainy days that we have from January to February. We may have practiced on that field 10 times, taken batting practice on there, taken tons of ground balls.”
That particular aspect of the playing surface proves useful for infielders who are less likely to have to deal with bad hops. Skip, skip and it’s in the glove.
“You get much more true hops, so it’s not a bad thing,” said second baseman Anthony Gomez. “Just sliding’s a little different.”
That and the temperature aspect. The playing surface at Jim Patterson gets much hotter than natural grass like the Commodores enjoy at Hawkins Field.
The temperature’s expected to reach 87 degrees today in Louisville and the playing surface is at nearly 100 degrees right now.
“You can even see the heat rising off the turf,” Gomez noted during Thursday’s practice.