Countdown to Opening Day: Rays Test New Batter’s Eye

By Amanda Borges
Assistant Digital Editor

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays

Throughout this off season, there have been many changes and improvements made to the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, at Tropicana Field. Most recently, there has been construction on a new batter’s eye.

Some Rays’ players paid a visit to The Trop to check out the new installment and to test it out. Manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com that he doesn’t really expect a whole lot from the new hitting background. He said that a new batter’s eye sounds well and good but it’s not that important. Maddon said that as long as it’s wide enough and there aren’t any obstructions, it should be fine.

Players like David DeJesus, James Loney, Ben Zobrist, and Evan Longoria went to test it out. Hitting coach Derek Shelton went along for the ride as well, just to be sure it was to his liking, too.

Maddon jokingly told MLB.com, “If they don’t like it, they’ll have to scrap it, re-do the whole backdrop.”

Does the batter’s eye actually affect how a player hits? According to research from Smithsonian.com, our brains have a special pattern to anticipate the location of moving objects. It’s obvious that hitting a 100 mph fastball may not be the easiest task for just anyone to accomplish. Which is why the color and location of the batter’s eye is just a minuscule detail in the mind of a batter.

In a recent study, researchers used magnetic imagery to pinpoint how the brain can work to hit a fastball.

 “UC Berkeley researchers used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to pinpoint the prediction mechanisms in the brain that enable hitters to track pitches (and enable all sorts of people to envision the paths of moving objects in general). They found that the brain is capable of effectively “pushing” forward objects along in their trajectory from the moment it first sees them, simulating their path based on their direction and speed and allowing us to unconsciously project where they’ll be a moment later.”

There’s no word on whether the team liked the new backdrop or not. I suppose if it doesn’t work for Maddon’s guys, the Trop will have a new one by Opening Day.

For more on this story visit: Bill Chastain, MLB.com

Tags: , , ,