30 minutes for one moment

BY foxsports • October 24, 2014

 

The Royals'€™ outfielders lack familiarity with the Giants'€™ ballpark. Though they can'€™t exactly simulate a game, 30 minutes of focused prep could substantially impact the entire Series.

Nori Aoki has some experience with AT&T Park from his 2012 and 2013 seasons with Milwaukee. Lorenzo Cain has played there once, on Sept. 9, 2010. Alex Gordon and Jarrod Dyson, meanwhile, have a combined zero innings.

Gordon, Dyson and Cain can wait for game time to learn their lessons or they can hone in for two groups of batting practice with a self-imposed crash course on stadium angles and surfaces.

When I played my first game in a new ballpark, I needed to learn the nuances quickly. Ballparks like Fenway, Minute Maid, and AT&T each had the capability to severely embarrass an ill-prepared outfielder with their quirky features.

I was never as skilled as Gordon or as athletic as Dyson. I could never beat Cain in a foot race. I had no choice but to make sure I wasn'€™t caught with my pants down. Our hitting coach in Detroit in 1999, Alan Trammel, once told me, "€œKap, I played this game to not be embarrassed."€ Like Tram, that was my motivation for my outfield pregame work.

During batting practice, I'€™d walk the outfield wall, feeling the surfaces with my hands, searching for soft spots where the ball might die after making contact. I wanted to know where the chain link ended and the brick began. I would carry a bucket of balls and simulate bullet line drives by throwing rockets off every corner, pole and pad. I studied the foul ground, so I'€™d know how much room I had to work with on pop-ups and fly balls.

For the Royals'€™ gazelles, it's about one potential moment on the biggest stage. If they'€™ve seen "€œit" before the lights come on, they, and their fans, will be forever grateful.


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