As Opening Day approaches, there's been a flurry of activity at Great American Ball Park.
Groundskeeping crews have kept the ball field looking great despite curve balls from mother nature. The recent cool weather in the Tri-State has caused no shortage of worry.
It takes a lot of time, money and TLC to keep to the field in tip-top condition. A small army of groundskeepers has been working tirelessly to get the field in shape for Monday's game against the LA Angels.
And they're not getting much help from the weather.
Head Groundskeeper Doug Gallant says weather is a constant concern.
"Weather is huge. It's my number one priority," Gallant revealed.
Gallant explains mother nature is the one factor he cannot control in maintaining the ball field, and he's not alone.
"It's been a challenge not only here, but across the whole midwest and really the eastern half of the U.S.," said Gallant. "I've been getting calls from groundskeepers from all over asking what we're doing and how we're doing."
Gallant says one thing they've done is install new sod last fall.
"The whole field was removed in late October, early November and re-sodded. The entire thing was re-graded. The infield slopes a little bit different now than it was before. It's got a little bit of pitch on it, but overall it's the exact same field. The players won't notice any difference and hopefully, the public doesn't notice any difference either," he explained.
With so much time and money spent on new grass, Gallant says a lot of effort goes into maintaining that investment.
"We did have grow blankets on it until the first week of March and that kind of helped green things up a little bit sooner, but since we've taken those things off, the weather really hasn't. Usually the weather continues to warm up for us, and it just hasn't this year," Gallant revealed.
Despite the unpredictable Cincinnati weather, Gallant says the field will be ready for Opening Day on April 1st.
"The field's in good shape. It'll play fine. It's just we're not seeing that surge of growth that we would normally see this time of year."
Gallant has a degree in agronomy, but he says maintaining a professional ball field science has to go hand-in-hand with good old fashioned labor.
"A lot of guys working hard here a long time so we're pushing it, and again, we're spraying things on it that you wouldn't spray on a home lawn, and we're trying to push it and get it to grow."
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