Cubs field complaints about Wrigley outfield

Published: 9/23/2007 3:00 AM

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has heard the complaints from the Pirates and Reds this week loud and clear about the shoddy condition of the Wrigley Field outfield.

"You don't like to see anyone come in and complain about your facility," Hendry said Saturday, a day after Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth told reporters the outfield looked like there had been a "dozen cows grazing out there for the past week."

The outfield has been torn up ever since the concerts by The Police on July 4-5. Recent negative comments by visiting teams have fueled talk about how badly Wrigley Field is in need of a new playing surface.

"Something will be decided and done after the season," Hendry said. "To me, it's not a lead story. We've got baseball games to play. It's unfortunate people feel that way."

According to a Cubs source, Major League Baseball also believes the outfield is a concern and may be looking to re-sod portions should there be playoffs on it.

The Cubs play their final home game today, which would give MLB almost two weeks to fix the problem. The Cubs wouldn't host Game 3 of the National League division series until Saturday, Oct. 6.

Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano agreed the outfield is in poor shape, but his comments Saturday weren't as harsh as those from McLouth or Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, who called playing conditions unsafe.

"It's not comfortable, it's not OK," Soriano said. "It's not dangerous, but it's not like a regular outfield. There are a lot of holes, so when they hit a groundball you have to be careful."

The holes and the hardness of the turf in those bare spots make groundballs an adventure.

"I'm not worried about my legs, because it's not that bad," Soriano said. "I'm more worried about the ball taking a tricky bounce."

If the Cubs rip out the old field and put in a new one, White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard might do the work. He installed the new surface at Fenway Park and many others.

The playing surface at U.S. Cellular Field is widely considered one of the best in the major leagues.

A new surface at Wrigley Field likely would cost more than $1 million and include changing the base from clay to sand for better drainage and removing the crown that so many players hate.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella told reporters a new playing surface would be installed this off-season.

"I've heard rumblings about that," Piniella said. "Don't take it as positive, but I've heard that they are."

Hendry wouldn't confirm that a new field was planned. It's a decision that likely will rest with new ownership.

"We'll worry about that in the off-season," Hendry said. "Some of it is part of what Wrigley Field is all about. You have an old stadium with an old playing surface. I hope there's a lot more games played on this surface."