A drive past John Thurman Field any time during the next two weeks will reveal the unique sight of a scoreboard-free baseball stadium, with nothing but air and trees where the inning-by-inning display used to be.
Removing the old scoreboard was the first step toward the unveiling of the new board at the ballpark. Once crews prepare the support posts, the new scoreboard should be in place by March 13, according to Nuts' general manager Mike Gorrasi.
Those details and a few more were presented to season ticket holders during an informal luncheon held Tuesday at the SOS Club.
The fans were treated to a presentation of some of the new scoreboard's video potential and had the chance to meet and ask questions of new Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein.
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"We're sensitive to the community and we want to put on a good show," said Weinstein, who stressed that his most important job is to get players ready to move up the Colorado Rockies' organizational ladder.
"The things that it took for baseball players to be successful 30 years ago are the same things it takes for them to be successful today," Weinstein said. "We want to show them that way, but we don't want to hold the players' hands. I call it guided discovery."
Weinstein left Wednesday for the Colorado spring training site in Tucson, Ariz. Rockies' minor league pitchers, catchers and players on U.S. work visas will report by Saturday. Position players must report by Tuesday.
Dates to watch
The Nuts placed single-game tickets on sale Wednesday at the John Thurman Field box office. Very few games during the season are complete sellouts, but the Nuts front-office reminded fans to act early to get the best seats to games of high interest, such as opening night (April 5,) the July 4 fireworks show and weekend games.
The Nuts will break from their Tucson camp on April 1 and have their first workout at Thurman Field the following day.
An exhibition game against Modesto Junior College is in the works for April 3, but the team has yet to decide if it will open the gates to the general public for the contest.
The purpose of the game is to give the Nuts the chance to play a game under the lights at Thurman Field. All minor league spring training games are played during the day. It also would serve as a shakedown for the front office and game-day staff prior to the Thursday night opener against Visalia.
In addition to the the new scoreboard, fans will notice other changes at Thurman Field. The most subtle, but perhaps the most important, is the renovation of the infield playing surface.
The infield has undergone its first complete overhaul since 1997. New sod was put in place and a new infield dirt mixture was graded into place and laser-leveled. The result should be a significant decrease in the number of infield bad-hops.
At the moment of the final out of the 2006 season, a technician ran onto the field and began taking light measurements. His results went into a study that resulted in an adjustment of the lighting system.
The result should be more-balanced and brighter nighttime playing conditions and the near-elimination of dark areas in the outfield.
With the conversion of the visiting team's bullpen into a picnic area, the Nuts now have a single space capable of accommodating parties of up to 500 people. The visiting team warmup mounds have been moved onto the warning track down the left field line.
"John Thurman Field is growing and becoming a stadium," said team president Bill Shanahan. "This will be a year that Nuts baseball will explode."