ST. PETERSBURG -- Lorenzo Cain, in right field for the Royals on Monday night for the series opener, was new to Tropicana Field and he learned quickly about the unusual risks of chasing long fly balls.
There's no warning track rimming the outfield, just a dirt-colored turf that's the same texture as the green-colored turf on the rest of the field. So Cain blasted into the wall in the third inning while chasing Desmond Jennings' triple.
"This is my first time playing here, but the field and the warning track are the same, so I couldn't tell how close I was getting to it," Cain said. "And with the ceiling being white, I couldn't afford to take my eyes off the ball. So I kept running full speed and, in my mind, I was about ready to catch the ball and -- boom! -- full speed into the wall."
Outfield coach Rusty Kuntz had prepped Cain beforehand:
"The three things that I told him about were 1, When you know the ball is over your head, make sure you turn and look at the wall. And he did that last night. 2, You've got to remember these gaps are only 370 feet and we're used to playing at 390 so they come up on you quick and you've got to be ready. And 3, When you get close, there's no dirt so you're not going to feel the difference between grass and dirt like you do in normal places when you get close to the wall so you've got to take a peek at it."
Cain didn't peek for fear of losing sight of the ball against the Tropicana roof.
"Two more feet and I would've caught it," he said.
Except that the wall intervened. Cain put a good dent into the cushion and was a little slow getting up off the turf.
"I guess I was a little dazed and shocked because I hit the wall," he said. "I didn't expect it at all, it just came out of nowhere."