Brewers addressing glare at Miller Park

Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder didn’t expect Brewers officials to respond to their concerns about the daytime hitting conditions at Miller Park. They’ll be surprised when they return next April.

Crews began a project Tuesday to respond to complaints lodged principally by the Brewers’ middle of the order sluggers, who were vocal about how difficult it was to see the baseball on sunny days. Workers removed the ivy that had been growing beyond the center field wall and painted the formerly green batters’ eye with glare-resistant black paint. Black mesh will then be installed below the scoreboard to further limit glare.

shadow.jpgThe project won’t eliminate the shadows that contribute to the hitters’ woes — at right is Minnesota’s Scott Baker throwing a pitch at Miller Park in June — but it’s a start.  

“I  think it’s Step 1,” Brewers vice president of communications Tyler Barnes said. “Hopefully, that will make a difference, and we’ll see how that goes.”

Barnes said that the Brewers looked at a number of different ways to improve hitting conditions at Miller Park but discovered “significant logistical issues” with a number of them.  Braun has said he wants the huge banks of windows that tower over the grandstands to be tinted, lessening the effect of the shadows that creep across the infield during day games. But that project could cost millions and would further cast Miller Park into darkness.

Players also have talked about the lighting at Miller Park during night games. But the Brewers studied the issue and found that the system meets Major League Baseball’s standards, so no upgrades are planned for 2010.

Braun was especially adamant in June that something needed to be done, arguing that the combination of glare and shadows constituted a safety hazard.

“We want to talk about it,” Braun said then. “We’ve made it very clear [to club officials] how we feel about it. It’s miserable playing day games here. That’s why Prince and I continue to talk about it. We’ve told everybody, and they haven’t done anything about it. It gets to the point where nobody enjoys playing day games here. It’s good for pitchers, but you can’t see the ball. It’s, by far, worse than any other park in Major League Baseball.”

Barnes said that club officials sought input from certain players during the season, but late in the year Fielder was still skeptical that his concerns would be addressed.

“They’ve said this and that,” he said, “but I’m going to take it as it’s never going to change. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Help me out.'”

Now it appears the team is trying to do just that.

The Brewers will announce a number of other minor Miller Park upgrades next week, Barnes said.

CFwide.jpg
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HomePlate1.jpg[Thanks to the Brewers’ John Steinmiller for the photos.]

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