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OKC Dodgers journal: New field ready for season debut Thursday

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An aerial look of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark's new turf following offseason renovation of the field. [Dave Morris/The Oklahoman]
An aerial look of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark's new turf following offseason renovation of the field. [Dave Morris/The Oklahoman]

The new grass of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark was a pristine green in the sunshine Tuesday afternoon as Monte McCoy watched the Oklahoma City Dodgers warm up.

His long winter is nearing an end.

“We made it through the first practice,” said McCoy, the Dodgers’ head groundskeeper.

As the Dodgers prepare to open the season Thursday night, there will be a new feel to the ballpark. New grass. New dirt. New lights.

And though it’s taken longer to prepare than planned, the field will be good to go when Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw takes his spot on the new mound for his rehab assignment.

“There’s still a couple areas that we had some of the sod came in and we had to put in a week late,” McCoy said. “Some of the edges didn’t match up. it’s a little bit behind, but it’s tacked down and we’re ready to go.”

The Brick got the facelift for the first time since the ballpark opened in 1998.

The complete renovation included new irrigation, drainage, a water reclamation system and turf. New LED lights were also added to improve clarity and reduce energy consumption.

McCoy said the initial plan called for sod installation on Feb. 15. But delays kept that from happening until early March. In three weeks, the field has rapidly improved.

There will be challenges throughout the season. The Brick hosts the Big 12 Tournament and high school baseball games through May.

“But we’ll have opportunities to re-sod certain areas if we need to,” McCoy said. “We should be all right.”

Preliminary roster set

OKC will tentatively open the season with 13 players who spent time with the team last season and six are ranked by Baseball America among the organization’s top 30 prospects, including catcher Will Smith (No. 5), pitcher Dennis Santana (No. 7) and pitcher Tony Gonsolin (No. 8).

Infielder Edwin Rios (No. 11), pitcher Josh Sborz (No. 22) and infielder Matt Beaty (No. 23) round out the list.

Santana and Gonsolin are expected to anchor the rotation, along with Daniel Corcino and Ben Holmes. Santana, 22, opened last season in Double-A Tulsa, pitched in OKC in late May and then was promoted to L.A but suffered a strained rotator cuff and missed the remainder of the season.

Gonsolin was named the organization’s Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year following a breakout season split between Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. He made 26 starts and went 10-2 with a 2.60 ERA.

Thirsty Thursday tweaked

Thirsty Thursday is going to be a little different this season.

Select beers will be $2, but draft beers from COOP Ale Works will be $3 throughout the ballpark.

Pepsi products and bottled water will remain $2.

OKC Dodgers vs. San Antonio Missions

When: 7:05 p.m. Thursday

Where: Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

Radio: 1340-AM

Tickets: www.okcdodgers.com

Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

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