The new design of the left field fence was the hot topic of conversation when the Orioles returned home early this week.
However, the wall was a non-factor in the opening series against the Brewers outside of one Trey Mancini drive that would’ve been a home run in years past. That could change this weekend against the power-hitting New York Yankees, who have historically knocked balls all around Camden Yards.
“You treat it like how you would going to a visiting ballpark,” Orioles left fielder Austin Hays said. “It’s your first time there. You get your reps in and get a feel for what you need to do. I’m sure this series [against the Brewers] we will get very comfortable.”
Prior to the season, the left field wall was moved back about 30 feet and the height of the fence rose to 13 feet. Left-center field is now 398 feet and the left-field corner quickly goes from 333 feet to 384 feet.
There is also a 90-angle where the fence meets the bullpen, which could make the ball have some uncertain bounces. The Orioles hope the alterations will cut down on the number of homers. Last season, a major-league-high 277 home runs were hit at Camden Yards.
“It reminds me of Pittsburgh a little bit, how their fence is,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We have no idea at this point. I think it is going to help out our pitching staff.”
As far as the hitters go, they are not making any major adjustments because of the left-field wall. However, Mancini was already robbed of a homer because of the new dimensions.
“I’m not really going to change much with my approach or anything,” first baseman Ryan Mountcastle said. “I’m sure there will be some balls that I think are going out that won’t go out. It’s something you have to get used to and it’s part of the game.”
With the uncertainty surrounding the starting rotation and a possible increased workload for the bullpen, the new left-field fence could be beneficial to the Orioles in 2022. Hyde also feels he has the defense in place to take advantage of the new dynamic.
“We are fortunate to have Austin Hays, who is a center fielder, that can go play left field,” Hyde said. “For me, it’s going to play a little like Fenway, where you need your corner outfielder to have center field range.”
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