Snow, sleet and ice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; then ‘play ball’ on Friday afternoon.
That’s the tentative schedule for the Clemson baseball team this week, as Eastern Michigan travels south into the heart of the storm to face the 13th-ranked Tigers in a three-game, season-opening series.
Whenever the snow melts and the first pitch is thrown, Tiger fans will get their first look at partially reconfigured Doug Kingsmore Stadium, which underwent a comprehensive resurfacing project in the off-season.
After Clemson’s board of trustees gave approval last week to architectural plans for the next phase of the stadium project, the Tiger baseball program posted renderings of the future look on Twitter.
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For this season, the Tigers will play on a reconfigured field that has moved home plate out 10 feet farther from the backstop, shortening the distance to the fences and giving catchers more room to cover behind the plate.
When the stadium enhancement project is completed, field-level premium seating will be added behind the plate, and locker room and player development areas will be expanded and improved.
Coach Jack Leggett said that for this year the players will be able to tell a bigger difference in the stadium than the fans, thanks to the resurfacing that smoothed several problem areas and improved drainage.
Leggett said that while moving home plate out from the backstop is not insignificant, he cautioned fans not to expect the ball to start jumping out of the park.
“It seems like 10 feet really hasn’t made a big difference in our batting practices, and trying to gauge how that all looks,” Leggett said. “It’s not like people are going to say ‘Wow, we’re going to have home runs after home runs.’ It’s not going to be anywhere close to what we were used to in 2010 when the bats were different.”
More likely, he said, is that there will be more balls that “shoot to the gap” or “skip out.”
“Overall if you’re sitting in our ballpark, you wouldn’t even know that the plate had been moved,” Leggett said. “It really isn’t an appreciable difference, and if the wind’s blowing in, it doesn’t matter what the dimensions are, because it’ll be tough to get a ball out.”
The playing surface is a different matter, he said.
“With the playing surface, and what we did to improve that during the summer, is a tremendous asset to our facility,” Leggett said. “I think the fans are really going to enjoy seeing the new field.”