Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox and called by many "America's Most Beloved Ball Park", has undergone a much needed face lift this past off-season, so much so that fans who watched yesterdays home opener noticed right away the changes made to the ball-park. 

The biggest change came to the infield as the Red Sox grounds crew installed a new infield this past off-season. The new infield has less dirt and more grass in a style that is a copy of the one Minnesota installed in Target Field. 

The reason the team had the option to change the infield was due to the increased number of events that were hosted at the park during the winter. The event they hosted damaged the infield enough for the team to decide on a new look. If you look at the photo above you will notice that the base cutouts at 1st and 3rd are significantly smaller, and there is a lot less dirt in the outfield. The width of the dirt from the infield grass to the outfield grass dropped from 21 feet to 13 feet in the change. 

Manager John Farrell said before the team made the changes they consulted with second baseman Dustin Pedroia and short stop Xander Bogaerts, both of whom expressed some ways to improve the surface, which is challenging to keep up with given the cold April weather.

With so many events last year [at Fenway Park], we were in the position to put down a new infield,” Farrell said. “At the time there was some discussion that went on internally if there were adjustments that we would like to make. Typically this has been an infield where there’s so much expansive dirt or exposed dirt. We looked around Major League Baseball, saw some different styles and just wanted to put a little bit more grass in for continuity of a ground ball.
— John Farrell

In addition to the new infield the Red Sox installed two new TV screens in both the away and the home dugouts that display the dugouts. This is becoming the standard around baseball stadiums as it is tough to see what is going on in the bullpens from the dugouts in most stadiums including Fenway. 

It’s something we added this year — both sides have it just to be able to see more clearly who is getting loose rather than call upstairs or try and figure out who in fact is the next guy getting ready,
— John Farrell

The last major change to Fenway park focuses on the idea of increasing safety for fans who are attending games.  The Red Sox added new netting going from dugout-to-dugout as expected especially since there were a few instances last season that put several fans in the hospital with life threatening injuries. 

We recognize our fans want to be uninterrupted in the action, but our priority and I think Major League Baseball’s priority is fan safety,” Farrell said. “We’re seeing it in every ballpark with the netting that is there. I think like many changes that you see around the league, we’re going to get accustomed to the netting there. We saw a pretty scary thing here and I don’t think any of us want to see that again. We feel like this will remedy some of those potential issues.
— John Farrell

All in all the improvements made to Fenway Park this off-season will help increase safety for fans and improve the way the field plays for the teams. The netting may be annoying and take away from the beauty of the park, but it is necessary for the fans to be safe when attending games. With Fenway, no matter what they do the history will always shine through and nothing can change that. 

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