The vast majority of Modesto Nuts players never had played a home game at John Thurman Field prior to Thursday night.
It will take some time to learn the ballpark's nuances, such as the speed of the infield and how to follow the flight of the ball once it rises above the range of the lights.
The first lesson of the season, in the midst of Modesto's 5-1 opening night loss to Lancaster, was absorbed by Nuts left fielder Tyler Massey.
The 23-year-old Tennessean collected two of Modesto's four hits, but it was the one ball he really scorched that will leave an impression.
It came in the fifth inning with a runner aboard and the Nuts trailing 3-1.
Massey, hitting from the left side, leaned into a high offering from Lancaster starter David Rollins and drilled a high fly ball to right field that in any other California League park would have cleared the fence and tied the game.
Instead, the ball was knocked down by the crosswind and settled harmlessly into the glove of Lancaster outfielder Drew Muren.
Massey got Thurman-ed.
"It's definitely a different ballpark than the one in Asheville we played in last year, but that ball tonight, I didn't really get into it," Massey said. "I know it's a deep park and we'll have to adjust accordingly."
The long balls will come. The immediate need for the Nuts (3-5) is consistent contact.
They hit .237 on the seven-game road trip, striking out 75 times. The opening-night offensive output, which came in front of a sellout crowd of 4,214, consisted of four singles all within the first three innings and eight more whiffs.
"Sometimes when you don't hit it carries over to the defensive side," said Nuts' manager Lenn Sakata, whose team committed two errors and was called for three balks. "We didn't have sharp focus in the field and had some sloppy play.
"But it all comes down to our lack of hitting, which is putting us behind the 8-ball. The guys who should be hitting will break out of it. They're going to hit."
Massey, currently Modesto's leading hitter with a .333 average, agrees with his skipper. Massey was part of the Asheville team last year that won the South Atlantic League crown and posted a .278 team batting average that led all of Colorado's full-season affiliates.
"We hit the ball hard during the road trip and hit a lot of balls right at people," Massey said.
"We just have to keep grinding it out, but we also have to make adjustments. We have to stop striking out so much and do a better job of putting the ball in play."
The Nuts scored an unearned run in the first to take a 1-0 lead, as Tim Smalling singled and eventually scored on a throwing error.
Modesto would go on to strand runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings against Rollins (2-0), but went down with a whimper as Rollins and Tyson Perez combined to retire the final 14 Nuts in succession.
Ben Alsup (1-1) became the first Modesto starter not to last five innings, and needed 83 pitches to get through 3ª. He allowed two runs on seven hits, Geoff Parker allowed one run in 3º innings of relief and Nelson Gonzalez gave up two runs in the eighth on two hits and two balks.
Right now, it's not about pitching. The Nuts are off to a slightly sputtering start because, except for a few standouts, they're not hitting.
"Massey is one of those guys who is giving us good at-bats," Sakata said. "He's hit some balls hard that haven't been hits and he's been a pleasant surprise.
"Two guys that we expect to hit (Will) Swanner and (Trevor) Story haven't hit yet and until they start to put together better at-bats the offense is going to sputter."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeekMore Online
Opening with seven road games in the South Division created a hardship for the Nuts. Read Brian VanderBeek's blog at modbee.com/blogs.Did photographer Elias Funez "click" a photo of you at Thursday night's Modesto Nuts game? Check modbee.com/clicks later today to see our gallery of fans.