Woodward on Globe Life Field: "It'll Help Our Pitching More than Anything"
As the calendar turns to July, the return of baseball has a number of fans clamoring for the start of the 60-game season while also trying to restrain their excitement. At any moment, COVID-19 could deal a heavy blow to the baseball season, putting the entire endeavor in jeopardy.
For now, that isn't stopping team's preparation for a very unique season.
Players officially report to their respective camps on July 1. Intake testing for COVID-19 is ongoing throughout baseball, which should give us a very good gauge on the chances that baseball actually gets started come July 23 and 24.
A small number of players have been working out at Globe Life Field throughout the shutdown. Over the past few days, more players on the roster have reported, gone through intake testing, and have been taking batting practice at the brand new home of the Texas Rangers.
Initial reviews of Globe Life Field from manager Chris Woodward are much more kind than social media has been over the past several days.
"The place is amazing. Inside, it's like a cathedral," Woodward told MLB Network on Tuesday. "Everybody that's shown up in the last week has just been in awe. The turf we've put in, you wouldn't even know the difference between grass and turf. It's perfectly true. The infield is immaculate. Honestly, it's been an awesome experience just getting in there and seeing our guys work out and take batting practice. I can't wait until Friday when we get our whole squad out there."
Over the next few weeks, Rangers players will be given the advantage of playing at their ballpark before any other team does. The dimensions along with a retractable roof that will likely remain closed throughout July and August are two key factors that will make baseball in Arlington play much different than it has over the past 26 years.
"I think it is going to play bigger," Woodward said. "I think it's better for us in a long way. I talked to Rougie [Odor] today. He was taking BP—there's a lot of hits out there. Center fielders are going to have to play a little deeper. The center field position, there's going to be a lot of importance in our ballpark with that."
A couple months ago, a few players that live locally began taking the first swings at the completed Globe Life Field, including slugger Joey Gallo. Despite being known for his tremendous power, Gallo said the park played "a little deep" and even called it a pitcher's park.
"Listen, Joey Gallo can hit it out of Yellowstone, so I don't think he has to worry about anything," Woodward said. "We have a lot of guys with true power, obviously with Joey probably having the most power on the planet earth. I'm not worried about that, I think we'll be fine. Our power hitters will hit their homers, but I think it'll help our pitching more than anything."
The strength of the Rangers going into 2020 is undoubtedly the revamped starting rotation. Adding Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson, and Jordan Lyles to an impressive duo of Mike Minor and Lance Lynn sets up the Rangers for improved success on the mound. Woodward is confident that Globe Life Field can be just another advantage for the pitching staff.
"I know that our pitchers are going to love it," Woodward said. "They execute pitches. In our old ballpark, if you popped it up to right [field] at the wrong time, the ball never came back. That's just not going to happen here. I think it's going to play fair."