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Mets' new park a challenge for Phils


Mets' new park a challenge for Phils
NEW YORK - The first thing Shane Victorino did when the Phillies walked into the New York Mets' new $900 million digs for the first time yesterday was take a peek at the outfield.

If he cared to, he could have easily envisioned himself running a long, long way, either chasing down fly balls in the deep power alleys, or circling the bases after one of his hits took a crazy carom off the sharply angled right-field fence.

"This park definitely has a lot of different angles out there," Victorino said before the game. "I heard it plays big."

The Phillies and Mets began Chapter 2 of their heated NL East rivalry last night, and it's not difficult to see why Citi Field could give the Mets a distinct home-field advantage because of the way the teams are structured.

With Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez, the Phillies' lefthanded power could be stifled by the ballpark's dimensions in right field.

The deepest part of the ballpark is in right-center - 415 feet. A hit to straightaway right has to travel about 400 feet to leave the park. It's 330 down the right-field line, nothing unusual there, but the fence dramatically juts out to 383 feet, where it also rises. The angle is such that balls carom off the right-field wall toward center.

"It looks pretty big," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said as he surveyed the outfield from the dugout. "Looks like a pretty good drive to right. I can see where in the corners there are different angles. And I've heard about the corners and how the ball can ricochet around. The rightfielder has to figure out how it comes off the walls. I can see where there can be a lot of triples."

But Manuel made it sound as if the dimensions were nothing his lefthanded power hitters couldn't handle, even though the ballpark won't be as friendly to his southpaw sluggers as Citizens Bank Park.

"I've heard people talk about our ballpark - and don't get me wrong, Citizens Bank Park is a good ballpark to hit in," he said. "But if you go back and check, I think we can hit anywhere. I think if Ryan Howard hits the ball here, he can get it out in left field or right field or center field. And I think Utley can go out of here anywhere. Heck, I think Jimmy Rollins can hit the ball out of here. If we hit it good, it'll go."

Manuel was correct about Citi Field's being a haven for triples. Entering last night's game, the Mets led the majors with 12. They had 11 triples by 10 different players in a 10-game span from April 19 to April 29, a stretch in which they played seven home games. It will shock no one if speedy Mets shortstop Jose Reyes approaches 30 triples this season. He led the majors with 19 last year.

Ibanez seemed more interested in learning his way around the field than in hitting.

"You want to see how the ball ricochets around the corners and how the ball bounces off walls," he said when asked what he looked for when he played at a new ballpark for the first time. "You want to get a feel for the grass and whether or not the ball skips. But I can't find that out until I get out there."

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 7, 2009

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