MINNEAPOLIS -- The batter's eye at Target Field will look slightly different when the Twins open up the 2011 season.
Twins president Dave St. Peter said Friday that the team plans to remove the 14 black spruce trees that are currently behind the center-field wall. Hitters, for both the Twins and visiting teams, have complained that the trees were a distraction. The hitters have said the trees make it difficult to see the ball coming out of the pitcher's hand, particularly during windy days when the trees would move.
The team also plans to copy something that the Mariners did at Safeco Field in Seattle and install a new "almost honeycomb-like" material on the backdrop, St. Peter said. That will help to reduce the glare for hitters off the batter's eye, which was a problem during late-afternoon games.
"It's more of a safety issue for players," Twins general manager Bill Smith said of the changes being made. "That is one of those things that you really don't know until you get into a park and start playing. You can project what the glare will be but you don't know until you start playing. We certainly want to make it safe for the players."
The changes that the Twins are planning to make were applauded by the club's hitters, including Joe Mauer.
"First year in the stadium, it was pretty bad," Mauer said of the batter's eye. "It was one of the worst backdrops that we've seen, and it's nice to see them address it.
"I think we're getting the same background as Seattle, which is pretty nice. People ask me, 'What's the one thing you miss about the Metrodome?' And that's it, every at-bat was the same, same sight-lines and all that. That's about the only thing I miss about the Metrodome."
St. Peter said that the team is still working on determining what to do with the 14 trees that will be removed. He mentioned it's possible that they could be relocated to different parts of the stadium.