SARASOTA, Fla. - You may notice something different about Camden Yards when the Orioles play their home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 5.
Check out the warning track, which no longer will be made of a synthetic material.
The track is being replaced with a natural surface made out of a crushed stone. The color has been designed to match the brick throughout the ballpark and the warehouse.
Actual samples of the same brick have been ground up and are being used in the final material to create the proper color blend.
We're talking approximately 20,000 square feet of area, not just foul pole to foul pole. That's 300 tons of warning track material. No small job.
The actual name of the product is Dura Trax Professional, using a Cushwa blend. The brick is from Redland Brick in Williamsport, Md.
The company producing the material is Natural Sand Company out of Slippery Rock, Pa., and the company installing the track is The Motz Group out of Cincinnati.
Take notes because there's going to be a quiz later.
The rubberized track has been replaced several times since the ballpark opened in 1992, but it's always been made of a synthetic material.
I'm guessing that manager Buck Showalter would prefer having baseballs stay in the ballpark rather than take high hops over the fence, and he wouldn't be the first one. The old track also held a lot of heat on those scorching summer days and nights. Players often commented on it.
The natural surface may not dramatically decrease the number of ground-rule doubles, though it obviously won't be as springy. It won't deaden balls, but it should play more like most other ballparks in the majors.
The cartoon bird. A natural-surface warning track. What's next?