The Seattle Mariners announced Tuesday that they would be moving the outfield walls inward at their tough-hitting home, Safeco Field. These changes will be the first made to Safeco Field since the park opened in 1999. The Mariners plan is to make the ballpark easier for batters; in particular right-handed hitters.
The fence will be moved in from four feet to 17 feet in left field and four feet from straight center to the right-center field gap. The 16-foot-tall old-fashioned hand-operated scoreboard in left-field will be moved back to make the walls 8-feet high all the way around the outfield.
Jeff Kingston, the Mariners assistant general manager who was part of a committee that studied the situation, said the changes won’t turn Safeco into a hitter’s paradise but will even the playing field to a degree.
According to MLB.com, the Mariners assistant general manager, Jeff Kingston, believes the new outfield layout could have resulted in 30 or 40 home run seasons from Mariners players. MLB.com Mariners writer Greg Johns reported, “He acknowledged that doubles and triples could actually go down, because of less outfield space, but more well-struck balls should carry over the fence instead of dying at the track.”
Here are the specific planned adjustments listed by Greg Johns on the Mariners’ website:
• The distance down the left-field foul line will remain at 331 feet.
• The left-field wall will now jut out to 337 feet, instead of 341 feet.
• The hand-operated scoreboard will be moved resulting in a height of the outfield wall will be eight feet from foul pole to foul pole.
• From the left-field corner to the left-field power alley, the wall will be moved inwards by four feet.
• The left-field power alley will decrease from 390 feet to 378 feet.
• From left center to straightaway center, the distance the wall will be moved in will vary from 4 feet to a maximum of 17 feet. At straightaway center field, the distance will decrease from 405 feet to 401 feet.
• From straightaway center to the right-center power alley, the wall will move in 4 feet. The distance at the power alley will decrease from 385 feet to 381 feet.
• From the right-field power alley to the right-field line, the dimensions remain the same.