The new bright green infield grass at Turner Field is not just for show, though many have noticed the difference during the Braves’ first home stand of the season.
Braves head groundskeeper Ed Mangan planted a new kind of infield grass this season in the hopes of slowing it down for the sake of the Braves infielders. The Turner Field infield is known for being quick, and Mangan planted a thicker grass he hopes will remedy that.
Mangan said he’s been testing out a variety of grass called “paspalum” in the bullpen and center field sod farm, for a few years, and decided to try it out this season. He plans to use it only on the infield for now, but might eventually plant it in the outfield too.
Paspalum was originally found in sand dunes of South Africa, Mangan said, and is used on beach area golf courses because it can withstand a higher salt content in water. What makes it useful for the Braves is that it’s a little softer than the hybrid Bermuda “419” they’ve used for years.
“Just looking for something to take a little bit more speed out of the ball on the infield,” Mangan said. “So far so good. So we’ll see how it pans. But just walking on it, you can tell a big difference.”
Second baseman Dan Uggla said he could tell a difference walking on it – “It feels spongier,” he said – but not necessarily fielding groundballs.
“You can’t really tell that much difference in it,” Uggla said. “I think it may be a tad slower.”
Third baseman Chipper Jones, who’s been playing a lot longer on the infield at Turner Field, has noticed a difference.
“I like it,” Jones said. “It was a really fast infield. It was almost like playing on Astroturf sometimes. This will slow stuff down. It’ll take some steam off.”