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, "Kap, 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 "it" before the lights come on, they, and their fans, will be forever grateful.