- Last Updated: 8:30 AM, November 1, 2011
- Posted: 2:08 AM, November 1, 2011
Swinging for the fences next year at Citi Field won’t seem like such a daunting task.
After much debate and discussion, the Mets yesterday revealed specific configuration changes that will be made to Citi Field for 2012, with the idea of creating a more hitter-friendly ballpark.
A new blue fence will surround the outfield, with shortened dimensions in left and right field.
Though the 16-foot “Great Wall of Flushing” in left will remain as a structural element, it is no longer in play -- a ball hitting it will be a home run, after having cleared an eight-foot fence that will be erected in front of it. A new fence will also be placed in front of the “Mo’s Zone” in right and in the bullpen area in right-center, shortening the home run distances by 10 feet and 11 feet, respectively.
“We’re trying to come up with a park that is a little more balanced in terms of offense and pitching and defense,” general manager Sandy Alderson said.
According to research conducted by Alderson and his staff, the Mets would have hit a combined 81 more home runs over the last three seasons in Citi Field using the new dimensions. Opponents would have hit a combined 70 more home runs.
But Alderson termed those numbers “coincidental” to the team’s mission in reconfiguring the ballpark.
“It’s really about being a more neutral ballpark -- maybe slightly more entertaining,” Alderson said.
In comments made through the Mets, both David Wright and Jason Bay expressed satisfaction with the changes.
“Was Citi Field my favorite park to hit in? I’d be lying to you if I said it was,” Wright said. “Sure it was frustrating when you hit a ball good and you didn’t get results.”
Bay, through the team, stressed the defensive implications.
“I think cutting down the space in the outfield will help improve the defense, which in turn should help the pitching,” Bay said.
The new fence in left will leave a gap between the old fence. In that space, the Mets plan to add about 100 seats directly above the orange line that will signify a home run. There will also be about 40 seats added in front of the Mo’s Zone, behind the new right field fence.
The Mets will not change the dimensions along the foul lines. It will still be 335 feet in left and 330 in right.
“The big thing was to make sure we didn’t change the foul poles, because it would change the geometry for the seating areas,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said.
Alderson is hopeful the new dimensions will actually help Mets pitchers.
After speaking with pitching coach Dan Warthen, the GM said it’s possible Mets pitchers had become too complacent when pitching at home, with the idea the big ballpark would help rescue them.
Alderson also feared that Mets hitters were getting psyched out by the vast dimensions.
“You don’t want the ballpark to be a distraction,” Alderson said. “I really do believe it can leave a lot more [distraction] with a team that plays 81 games here every year.”
The overall size of the playing field will shrink about two percent, according to Alderson, with the changes. The construction is slated to begin next month and take about six weeks to complete.
Wilpon indicated the change from a black fence to a blue one will bring more of a Mets feel to Citi Field.
“We decided to change the outfield wall from black to Mets blue, which many of our loyal fans have wanted,” Wilpon said.
With APFollow @NYPostsports