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Updated: May 13th, 2014 8:34pm
Owner Jim Pohlad asks Twins to explore softer outfield wall padding

Owner Jim Pohlad asks Twins to explore softer outfield wall padding

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by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins owner Jim Pohlad wants to do something to protect his players, and generally to make games at Target Field safer. After the Twins lost two centerfielders in short succession to concussions following collisions with the outfield wall, Pohlad asked if the Twins could do anything to better pad the wall.

"We're looking at it to see if there are any options of outfield walls we could possibly install," assistant general manager Rob Antony said Tuesday. "I have to check with Major League Baseball to see if it's something we can do during the season or something we have to wait to do after the season."

The Twins played three shortstops at various positions Tuesday night in the opening game of a series against the Boston Red Sox. That included 23-year-old prospect Danny Santana, a shortstop by trade who has brief exposure to the outfield in the minors. He's learning on the fly for the Twins against the defending World Champions because injuries have wrecked the Twins' outfield.

Aaron Hicks crashed into the centerfield wall while attempting to make a catch in the Twins home game May 1 against the Dodgers.

Concussion. One week on the disabled list.

His backup, Sam Fuld, banged into the wall while robbing Manny Machado of extra bases May 2 against the Orioles. Fuld played a few more games, but said symptoms flared up and he hit the concussion disabled list May 8.

Two brain injuries in short succession.

Denard Span also had a concussion before he was traded to Washington. That may have played into it, but after Fuld hit the disabled list while the team was in Cleveland, Pohlad had seen enough. He called the Twins front office to see if the team should be doing anything more to prevent brain-jarring collisions with the outfield wall.

"Is this a result of our wall being too hard?" Pohlad asked Antony. "I understand it's the same wall as most ballparks have but is there anything out there - an alternative - that we could make the walls safer for our players and for opposing players?"

Antony said he's talked with Matt Hoy, the Twins senior vice president of operations, and Hoy said the Twins have looked into it.

Fuld, for one, would be on board with a potential change.

"I wouldn't mind that at all, yeah," Fuld said. "It's definitely harder than I anticipated it being and I don't really see any reason  -- I haven't really heard any argument against making it softer, so yeah I wouldn't be opposed to it at all."

The Twins have looked into a different type of padding, like the one the Arizona Diamondbacks use. It's four inches thicker and softer, Antony said.

"I think what we have is what most clubs have. It's sort of the traditional padding. There's one [in Arizona] that has what we're looking for that's supposedly four inches thicker and a little softer. Obviously then the ball doesn't bounce off the same way, either. If it's a situation where it helps our players and any of the players that crash into the wall, it's something that we think is worth looking into," Antony said. 

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
In this story: Denard Span
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