SAN DIEGO (AP)
Padres manager Bud Black, general manager Josh Byrnes and assistant G.M. A.J. Hinch spent several minutes throwing baseballs off the new fence in right field at Petco Park on Monday, trying to get a crash course in how they might play starting with the home opener Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The big hope, of course, is that more balls will fly over the fence.
From the right-field porch to the right-center gap, the fence was moved in from 402 feet to 391 feet and lowered to just under 8 feet, matching the rest of the outfield wall. In left-center, the fence came in from 402 feet to 390 feet.
While Petco is expected to remain a pitchers' park, the Padres (1-5) hope that players who crush a ball end up with a homer rather than a frustrating long out, the kind that have left sluggers angst-ridden since the downtown ballyard opened in 2004.
Having played with the Padres from 2006-2010, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is interested to see how Petco will play.
"Day games were OK, but night games were tough," Gonzalez said. "The first couple of innings you had a chance, but after that the ball would hang up in the air quite a bit because everybody knows about the marine layer."
The old dimensions "probably made the pitchers more aggressive in the strike zone, knowing that even if you hit a ball decent, it's probably going to get caught," Gonzalez said. "So it's good that they brought them in a few feet - any number helps. They just did it because they want to make it as even as possible for both sides and not have it be a place that's not considered such a one-dimensional ballpark."
Padres scheduled starter Clayton Richard (0-1, 14.54 ERA) said he hasn't thought much about the new fences.
"I don't think it's going to change anybody's approach," he said. "If you start changing your approach, that's where you get in trouble."
Richard will try to regain his command after struggling mightily in his season debut against the New York Mets on Wednesday. Pitching in a whipping wind, the left-hander was tagged for eight runs and seven hits - including three homers - in an 8-4 loss. It was an inauspicious start for Richard, who served up an NL-high 31 home runs last season. Ten of those came in 14 games at Petco Park.
Los Angeles scheduled starter Josh Beckett (0-1, 4.50) also had trouble keeping the ball in the park in his first start, yielding two homers and five runs in six innings of Wednesday's 5-3 loss to San Francisco.
He seemingly would have better success against a San Diego club that is returning home after managing one homer on its season-opening trip to New York and Colorado. The Padres have plated 14 total runs and are batting .167 with runners in scoring position.
Beckett gave up two runs in 5 2-3 innings in his lone start against the Padres last season - and first since 2007 - in a 2-1 loss Sept. 25.
The Dodgers (4-2) haven't been much better offensively than San Diego, totaling 17 runs and three homers.
Gonzalez, however, seems to be heating up, going 7 for 11 with two doubles and five RBIs in a three-game weekend sweep of Pittsburgh. In his only series at Petco since being traded from San Diego, Gonzalez went 6 for 13 with three RBIs last September.
He could be poised for a big game considering he's 7 for 8 lifetime against Richard.
Matt Kemp also has given Richard trouble, going 7 for 18 (.389) with two homers and three doubles since 2011.
Richard went 2-2 with a 3.79 ERA in six starts against the Dodgers last season.