Kevin Pillar making a diving catch for the Blue Jays, 2015 (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)

Most fans would agree that Kevin Pillar is one of the more physically fit players in baseball.  His conditioning and physicality, along with his relatively young age (27) allow him to make some spectacular plays in the outfield, but even someone as well conditioned as Pillar will find it difficult not to get banged up given his style of play, and also the playing surface in the outfield at Rogers Centre which takes its toll on a players body.  Pillar’s style of play is probably not going to change much, nor should it, he’s one of the best defensive centrefielders in the game and probably the most exciting.  But something that can be changed which would help Pillar carry on with his aggressive brand of defence while at the same time reduce the probability of him getting injured would be to improve his working conditions.  Improve the playing surface in the outfield, starting with the installation of a proper warning track made of dirt.

In last nights game against the Diamondbacks, Pillar made yet another highlight reel catch.  Take a look at the video below.

As Pillar is running back for the ball, prior to getting to the warning track, which is dirt colured but the same material as the faux turf, Pillar looks up to find the ball and jumps to catch it just before colliding with the wall.  He was running pretty much full-out all the way to make the catch, so the collision with the wall, as hard as it was, was unavoidable if he wanted to make the catch.  But when a player is running full speed towards a solid outfield wall and their gaze is directed upwards as they follow the trajectory of the ball, in the interest of the well being of the player, install a dirt warning track so that the difference of feel and sound of the players steps on the dirt track will at least help them a bit when it comes to bracing for impact with the wall.

The time to really get serious about taking care of the players on the field is now.  The dirt infield was a good start, now build on that and install a dirt warning track, then follow that up with actual grass for the rest of the field.  Rogers Centre likes to define itself as a multi-purpose facility, but the reality is that it’s first and foremost a baseball stadium, so start doing everything you can to take care of your players by providing them with the most ideal conditions for playing baseball.

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