OAKLAND –- It’s that time of year when the Coliseum field gets an undesirable makeover, at least from a baseball standpoint.
The Raiders will play their first home exhibition football game Friday, and when the A’s return from their seven-game road trip that begins Monday, there will be faded white stripes stretching across the outfield, and patches of brown where the bleachers are brought in for the football configuration.
A’s head groundskeeper Clay Wood gets raves from players and coaches for the work he and his staff do to keep the playing surface in good baseball shape during this time of season. But the A’s are the only team left in the major leagues that shares its venue with an NFL squad, and the arrival of football brings some challenges.
“The outfield is really fast when they’re here, because they keep the grass shorter and they’re constantly pounding down on it,” outfielder/first baseman Brandon Moss said. “Every now and then there’s a divot or two. It plays a lot faster, which is great as a hitter and bad as a fielder.
“You have to play a little bit deeper, even though you don’t want to play deep here because ball doesn’t go anywhere (in the air). But the ones on the ground get past you.”
Right fielder Josh Reddick says charging balls on the ground becomes a bigger challenge once a football game or two gets played.
“You can’t predict how the ball is going to bounce,” he said.
Reddick added that the groundskeeping crew began cutting the outfield grass in a different pattern this season, and that it’s made for truer bounces once the ball reaches the outfield. But that could change after football cleats start digging into the turf.
Still, Moss tries to look at the glass as half full.
“It’s not that bad,” he said. “You’ve gotta remember some of these minor league fields we played on.”
Notes: Shortstop Jed Lowrie, whose bruised right index finger still is not 100 percent, is not in Sunday’s lineup. Manager Bob Melvin said he’d been planning to give Lowrie today off after he started the past two games. Eric Sogard is spelling him. … Outfielder Craig Gentry, recovering from a fractured right hand, said he hopes to take swings off a tee on Monday.