Red Sox renovating Fenway with assist from Camden Yards


O's ballpark is inspiration as Boston makes changes


April 16, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Fenway Park was built in 1912, and 80 years later, the Orioles used pieces of it as an inspiration for Camden Yards.

Now, the process has come full circle, as the Boston Red Sox are using Camden Yards as an inspiration for the ongoing renovations at Fenway.

"There is a mini-Camdenization going on," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said yesterday, at a luncheon with members of the Baltimore-Washington media.

Lucchino, the former Orioles' president, and Red Sox vice president Janet Marie Smith, were two of the driving forces behind Camden Yards, from the critical planning stages in the 1980s to the ballpark's opening in 1992.

Smith went on to help the Atlanta Braves convert Turner Field from an Olympic venue to a baseball park in 1996, and Lucchino led the San Diego Padres' efforts to build Petco Park, which opened to widespread acclaim last week.

When they came to work for the Red Sox two years ago, they discovered a new challenge: preserving Fenway's tradition while giving the decaying ballpark a much-needed face lift.

So far, so good.

Beyond the obvious changes - the Green Monster seats, which now adorn the historic left-field wall, and the new rooftop seats in right field, which opened this year - the team has gone to great lengths to improve the bowels of the stadium.

In a place where thousands of Red Sox fans used to walk on top of each other to get to their seats, there are new concourses with modern concession stands and restrooms.

"We lead the league in new bathrooms," Lucchino said.

With a current capacity of roughly 35,300, the Red Sox have sold out 68 consecutive games. Smith said about 4,000 seats could be added in a new right-field rooftop project, but the goal will always be to preserve Fenway's intimacy.

"At some point, we'll have to address the issue of do we renovate Fenway or replace it," Lucchino said. "But we continue to make improvements, and that will help us make a better long-term decision."

Tonight, the Red Sox will begin their highly anticipated first series with the New York Yankees, in a rematch of last year's American League Championship Series.

But Lucchino said he gets rankled when people refer to the Yankees and Red Sox as baseball's "superpowers."

"That's just nonsense," Lucchino said. "We have much more in common with the 28 other clubs than we do with the Yankees."

The Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball again this season, at $184 million, the Red Sox are second at $127 million, and the next closest is the Anaheim Angels at $100 million. The Orioles' payroll is about $55 million.

Forfeit ruled out

The Orioles were fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for using Erik Bedard in Saturday's 11-3 victory at Tampa Bay before he was eligible to be recalled from Triple-A Ottawa.

But the Orioles were relieved when they got the word that they didn't have to forfeit or replay that game. Jim Beattie, the team's executive vice president, spoke with Sandy Alderson from the commissioner's office.

"Sandy just said it's something they don't take lightly," Beattie said, "and neither do we."

Beattie and a Major League Baseball spokesman declined to say how much the Orioles were fined.

Cordova update

Orioles outfielder Marty Cordova, who has been rehabbing his surgically repaired right elbow at the team's extended spring training camp in Sarasota, Fla., could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment in the next seven to 10 days, Beattie said.

Cordova would probably need two weeks at Double-A Bowie or Triple-A Ottawa to get himself back to game speed after missing spring training. Cordova will probably be ready to hit before he can throw well enough to play the outfield.

"My concern is getting his [right-handed] bat back in the lineup," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. "So I'm not really worried about that."

Around the horn

The Orioles and Red Sox will make up the rainouts from the previous two games with an afternoon game, May 31, at 1:20, and with a night game, July 22, at 7:05. That second game will be part of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park. ... The Orioles traded minor league infielder Napoleon Calzado to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named. ... Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora committed his fifth error of the season in the third inning last night. ... Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts had the first leadoff home run of his career last night.

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