Twins learning the walls at Target Field
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Many people have tweeted questions about the Target Field ground rules regarding the limestone overhang in right field.
The limestone is part of the fence, thus any ball hit off the limestone facing is not a home run. The problem for outfielders, however, is deciphering how a ball will ricochet off that part of the wall.
With two outs in the top of the first inning today, Kansas City first baseman Billy Butler hit a towering line drive to right field, over the head of right fielder Michael Cuddyer. The ball bounced off the limestone facing and deflected all the way back toward the infield.
Cuddyer, centerfielder Denard Span, and second baseman Orlando Hudson all gave chase, but it was Cuddyer who picked up the ball and fired it to Brendan Harris at third base to gun down the speed-challenged Butler, who tried for a triple.
"I'd like to say I baited him into it," Cuddyer said. "That's what I was going for, but I'd be lying if I said that."
Cuddyer is actually forced to deal with three separate right-field wall surfaces; the limestone overhang, the standard padded wall, and the green-painted wood that separates the stone and the padding. Cuddyer says balls deflect hard off the pad and stone, but soft off the wooden section.
"I didn't know if it was going to hit off the stone or if it was going to hit off the wood, that's why I was so far up against the wall," Cuddyer said of Butler's liner. "It hit off the stone and it just shot [toward the infield]. Fortunately, it was a slower runner, and fortunately he went to third.
"If that happens again, I have a better idea of how high it is now -- of how high the ball is over my head. I'm not going to say I'd let it carom and be right there to catch it, but I'd be a little more prepared."
Hudson and Span are both instructed to run toward right field when a ball hits off the stone facing, which can be especially difficult for Hudson, who must always have his head on a swivel.
"That's one of those plays we have to get used to," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We'll see it a few times here... It's hard for an outfielder to be in two places."
Earlier this weekend, a ball bounced off the backstop behind home plate and deflected straight back to Royals catcher Jason Kendall. The backstop is made of the same limestone material as the overhang in right field.
"There's nothing you can do about it," Gardenhire said. "You see the ball go in the dirt, it goes by the guy -- you've got to take off, and then all of a sudden it ricochets and comes straight back to you. That's just one of the quirks that we're going to have to deal with."
Ah, the quirks of a new ballpark.