Citizens Bank walls to be moved back
Hitter-friendly ballpark to be adjusted for 2006 season
PHILADELPHIA -- Though he didn't list specifics, Phillies team president David Montgomery confirmed on Friday that he intends to move the fences back at Citizens Bank Park.At least in left-center field. In addition to finding a general manager to replace Ed Wade and pushing to re-sign Billy Wagner, this could rank a solid third on the Phillies' extensive list of offseason discussion agenda items. It has been widely speculated over the past few days, and an official announcement should come sometime next week. "We have indeed decided that there's some action that can make the park play better," Montgomery said. "It's adjusting fences. We hope to end up with a fair ballpark." Montgomery said he wanted to take a second year to see how the ballpark played before making a final determination, so here are some numbers: Citizens Bank Park surrendered 201 homers in 2005, the fifth-most in the Majors, and it was down 17 from 2004, when the park allowed the third-most. According to ESPN, Citizens Bank Park had a "park factor" of 1.289. The stat compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road, and a rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Philadelphia's 1.289 ranked them sixth in the Majors. The Phillies' home turf has been one of the friendliest places for hitters since opening in 2004. The club has weathered criticism from pitchers around the league, including their own. Atlanta's John Smoltz has been one of the more vocal critics, and suggested that free-agent pitchers wouldn't want to come to the Phillies because of the dimensions of their home park. Things are particularly tight in the power alleys, which are about 350 feet from home plate. The change will mostly affect left-center field. Of the 201 homers hit in 2005, 109 were hit to left, 14 to center and 78 to right. "We think there are ways to improve," Montgomery said. "It's not targeted for a specific player or the overall feeling that it will make us more or less attractive [for free-agent pitchers]. It might make us less attractive to right-handed hitters. "We feel there are some things we can do on the left-field side that will help. We haven't made specific decisions, but hope to before we open next season."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.