ST. PETERSBURG -- Martin Prado played on artificial turf for the first time in his Major League career on Friday at Tropicana Field. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Prado had appeared in the second-most Major League games (564) among active players who had never played in a game on artificial turf, behind the Pirates' Nate McLouth (761).
Prado, who started in left field, didn't seem to mind the indoor confines of the stadium affectionately known to the locals as the Trop, going 2-for-4 with a double and a home run to extend his season-high hitting streak to 10 games.
Jason Heyward also made his first start on turf in his 308th big league game and his 277th start as a Major Leaguer. While Heyward made several impressive defensive plays on the grass-like AstroTurf in Friday's contest and again on Saturday, the 22-year-old right-fielder wasn't too fond of the material.
"It just starts digging away at your knees and your back," Heyward said. "I haven't had to make a diving play yet, but I kept on thinking to myself how rough it's got to be sliding for a catch."
Heyward wore a long-sleeve shirt underneath his jersey on Friday and Saturday.
The Rays had the new turf installed before the 2011 campaign to replace the FieldTurf as a part of AstroTurf's sponsorship arrangement with Major League Baseball. The turf features a horseshoe-shaped polymer fiber that the company promotes as a "grass-like, uniform, predictable" surface, leaving fewer rug burns when fielders slide or dive.
"It's still turf, not grass," Heyward said.