People describe Marlins Park in a lot of different ways, but players seem to all describe it the same way.
Through two games, there was just one home run hit at Marlins Park, a two-run shot by Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez on Friday night. The new ballpark has mammoth dimensions that have contributed to the lack of power hitting early in the building's young life.
The left-field foul pole stands 345 feet away from home plate, while it is 335 feet to the wall down the right-field line. The power alleys are expansive as the gap in left-center is 386 feet away from home, and the right-center-field gap is 392 feet away. The wall in center field is an astonishing 418 feet away, prompting Martinez to declare the need for special recognition for anyone strong enough to hit it over the park's farthest section of fence.
"Whoever hits it out to center should get an award," Martinez said.
Some would say the lack of home runs just has to do with a lack of games played in the new ballpark, but the chatter in both clubhouses indicates otherwise.
"Some of the balls that were hit out there would have been out in the majority of the parks," Martinez said. "It's a big outfield."
Gaby Sanchez provided a good example of a ball that may have been a homer in another stadium on Friday night. The Marlins first baseman crushed a game-winning double over Martinez's head that bounced off the wall in left-center field.
"I hit it good," Sanchez said. "We haven't played here enough, so it's hard to judge balls here in this park. It doesn't matter if it went out or not, it's the outcome that was great."
Marlins bench coach Joey Cora agrees that it may be too soon to say if the new ballpark's dimensions are too big. But he definitely has noticed several balls stay in play that might have been souvenirs in other team's stadiums.
"That ball Gaby hit, he crushed it," Cora said. "He either better go to the weight room a little bit more or whatever, because it seems like it's going to play big. But it's still April, so you don't know what it's going to do when it gets hotter. So far, it's a big, big, big ballpark."
Entering Saturday, the Marlins had not been able to animate the 70-foot tall home run structure beyond the left-field wall, but Cora jokingly suggested that they should expand its use to more than celebrating a Miami home run.
"One thing that we're going to suggest to Mr. [Jeffrey] Loria is, I don't think there are going to be many home runs hit in this ballpark," Cora said. "If he's planning on using that thing, maybe they should turn it on when we win games instead of only when we hit home runs, because there is a good possibility that we win more games than hit home runs in this ballpark with the way it's playing right now."
Sanchez and several of his teammates hit balls that fans and players thought would get over the fence, only to land in the outfield grass or in a defender's glove. But Sanchez insists Miami's hitters are not frustrated with the size of their new ballpark yet. In fact, he feels the expansive outfield could provide a significant advantage to the Marlins.
"We want the opposing team to be frustrated.," Sanchez said. "For us, we have a lot of guys that are gap-to-gap guys. For us, the park does play in our favor. We have a lot of guys that have a lot of speed like [Jose] Reyes and [Emilio Bonifacio] and Hanley [Ramirez]. Those guys hit the ball in the gap, and all of a sudden maybe a double in other parks, in here it's a triple. The park is going to play differently. Maybe we have to hit it a little bit harder and go to the weight room a little bit more."