1st SunTrust Park workout draws rave reviews

Stadium will host exhibition vs. Yankees on Friday; home opener set for April 14 vs. Padres

March 30th, 2017

ATLANTA -- After nearly seven weeks in Florida during Spring Training, many of the Braves who returned to Atlanta on the team's charter Wednesday night did not immediately rush to their residence. They first rushed out on the field at SunTrust Park to soak in the sights of their new baseball home, which has already drawn rave reviews.

"Last night was astonishing," shortstop Dansby Swanson said. "The only lights that were on were the accent lights and the scoreboard. It lit it up in a different way. I didn't want to even take pictures or videos or anything because it wouldn't do it justice. Then today, it doesn't really get any nicer, if we're being honest. It's pretty special."

Swanson expressed this after he and his Atlanta teammates got a feel for SunTrust Park during a workout Thursday. The state-of-the-art stadium will host an exhibition game when the Yankees come to town on Friday night, and it will officially open on April 14 when the Braves play their home opener against the Padres.

"It's an honor to be in Atlanta period, but coming out here and seeing the new SunTrust Park, this is a great landmark for Atlanta," second baseman and Atlanta native said. "They really needed this. Turner Field was very nice also, but I see why everybody is bragging about [SunTrust Park]. It's a beautiful thing."

Courtesy of the determined efforts of CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk, vice chairman John Schuerholz and presidents Mike Plant and Derek Schiller, the Braves have constructed a stadium that should delight fans with its cozy sightlines, amenities and countless entertainment options.

When the players arrived for the workout, they entered a spacious clubhouse that includes a pool table, saunas, sleeping areas and a massive workout room. Their first daylight glimpse of the field introduced them to the new turf, which is a shade of green that might make some folks at Augusta National jealous.

"It's baseball, and it's a new stadium," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "I don't care how much money they're making or how long they have been in the game -- it's a fun thing. We're all little kids playing this game, so something like this is fun."

Time will tell exactly how the park might play, but if Thursday's batting practice provided some indication, the ball could fly, especially on windy days. Freddie Freeman drilled one ball into the Coors Field-like water feature beyond the center-field wall. Matt Kemp also had some fun with the hitter-friendly weather conditions.

When Kemp hit a ball into left field's second deck less than 10 minutes after the first round of batting practice began, the always-witty first-base coach Eddie Perez said: "I've never seen anybody hit one there."

Along with getting a feel for how the ball might travel, center fielder and right fielder started to get acquainted with how the ball might bounce off the brick that adorns the upper portion of the elevated right-field wall. The infielders got a taste of what is being described as a quick infield.

"You've got to get used to something," Phillips said. "Everybody on this team is not used to this stadium. We've got to learn what we've got to pay attention to. There will be a lot of mistakes going on in a new ballpark. We really don't know what this field is going to do. We just have to learn from our mistakes, just take it in and pay attention to all of the little details. Hopefully, we can get to know this park together as quickly as possible."