Spencer is entering his 11th season as an assistant at Oregon State. The
associate head coach and pitching coach of the Beavers, Spencer has been
instrumental in helping the Beavers to back-to-back College World Series
appearances and the 2006 National Championship. He joins
CollegeBaseballInsider.com for the 2007 season.
April 30, 2007
Turf or No Turf
Recently we put field turf in at Goss Stadium here in
Corvallis, and the feelings are mixed. From the standpoint of climate, it is a
no-brainer in our part of the country. We now have more outside practice time
and obviously have a lot less field maintenance on the game days when it does
As the coach who works with pitchers and catchers, I think the new turf is
great. The turf plays a little slower initially, ground balls stay in the
infield and infielders catch them, so that makes me look like I know what I am
doing. On the flip side, a ball that is not hit very hard is scored a hit
because infielders have a hard time getting to it in time to throw somebody out.
Personally, I think it is slightly more pitcher-friendly at this time. Over time
and weather, the field will speed up and be a wash. It will always be easier to
field a ground ball on the turf compared to a dirt field, but you still have to
throw it across the infield.
I chose this topic because it is a common conversation around our team and
amongst our fans. Some of our hitters think the turf has hurt their batting
average, but the numbers at this point in the season do not bear it out. We have
some hitters who hit for a higher average on the road, but just as many who hit
more at home.
The hitting problem is mental. If a player struggles in one venue more than
another, his mind will create a reason for it, regardless of whether the player
is a pitcher or hitter.
If you believe the turf is hurting you as a hitter, it probably will. If you
start to change things in your swing to make the turf less or more of a factor,
then you are really in trouble.
The same thing happens in parks where the wind blows out. Hitters not used to it
will change their swing to get balls in the air. Consequently, most will
Pitchers behave the same way and will make adjustments based on things they
cannot control. The game is hard enough just concerning ourselves with what we
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(photo courtesy of Oregon State Media Relations Office)