ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Get a grip: Arizona Diamondbacks to install humidor at Chase Field

Apr 6, 2017, 9:28 AM | Updated: 11:30 am
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Derrick Hall, Diamondbacks president and CEO

Chase Field, historically, is not a friendly place for pitchers.

The stadium’s elevation, the second-highest in Major League Baseball, makes it a tough place to pitch, and more to the point, to keep the ball in the yard. But the weather conditions also play a huge part. Arizona is the hottest and most arid big league climate, so gripping the ball can be a challenge for pitchers.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are taking steps to help their pitching staff, and others from visiting teams.

Team president and CEO Derrick Hall announced on Doug and Wolf Thursday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that the club is installing a humidor in which to store baseballs. Chase Field is only the second MLB venue to have a humidor, joining Coors Field in Denver, which famously installed one in 2002.

The Diamondbacks have tinkered with the idea for some time, according to Hall.

“We, for the past five or six years, have talked about the idea,” he said. “We talked to former pitchers, whether it’s J.J. Putz or pitchers who have retired or pitchers we’ve traded, and said ‘what did you like, what didn’t you like?’ They all talk about the grip.

“The one thing you don’t really want to do is negatively impact the offense, because that’s part of the fun of Chase Field or Coors Field, but I don’t think it really did diminish the offense at Coors Field. We don’t know if it’s going to make much of a difference, but it’s probably a necessity.”

Hall explained that there was a study done through Major League Baseball that concluded they would like to have baseballs stored at 70 degrees, with about 50 percent relative humidity. That’s impossible to do in Phoenix, especially in the hot summer months where temperatures climb into triple digits and humidity can be a single number.

Storing the balls in a humidor will hopefully improve a pitcher’s grip and provide more consistency throughout the sport.

Skeptics might suggest that the D-backs, who uncharacteristically shelled out $206.5 million for free agent pitcher Zack Greinke prior to the 2016 season, are making such a move to appease him and make his numbers look better. Hall says that’s simply not true.

“I think you could talk to Zack Greinke, or any pitcher we have, and they say ‘this is news to me’ just as it is to everyone else out there,” Hall said. “We’ve never had a conversation with any current pitcher and this is something we’ve looked at for five-plus years, so well before Zack Greinke was here. It had nothing to do with last year’s ERA, as bad as that was.

“I think we started looking at this when we were pitching pretty well, too.”

Hall said MLB has strict guidelines in place once the humidor is installed. Among them, once it’s on, it’s on. All balls used in games at Chase Field will be subject to the same handling procedures and the club can’t turn it off when and if they feel like it.

The D-backs hope to have the installation completed in about a month, before the hot, dry summer months hit.

“Again, I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference,” Hall said. “It hasn’t made a huge difference at Coors Field, I don’t think. But even our pitchers say when they grip the ball there, it’s a better feel than it is here, so let’s at least try to get it consistent with the rest of baseball.”

Penguin Air

Arizona Diamondbacks

Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates his walk-off RBI fielder's choice with ...
Jake Anderson

D-backs overcome 6-run deficit late to walk off Padres in bizarre fashion

The Arizona Diamondbacks rallied late to walk off the San Diego Padres 7-6 in bizarre fashion at Chase Field on Tuesday night.
1 day ago
Starting pitcher Zach Davies #27 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a pitch during the first inning...
Arizona Sports

D-backs place RHP Zach Davies on 15-day IL, recall reliever Sean Poppen

The D-backs have placed starting pitcher Zach Davies on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation, the team announced Tuesday. 
1 day ago
Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a first inning pitch against the Detroit Ti...
Sam Graveline

Lovullo: D-backs looking for more stability in starting rotation with Dallas Keuchel

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel will remain in the rotation with Arizona looking for more stability.
1 day ago
Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Geraldo Perdomo and center fielder Alek Thomas (5) leap after the te...
Nikash Nath

ESPN’s McDaniel: D-backs OF Alek Thomas’ ‘stock up’ in rookie ranking

The D-backs' Alek Thomas and Geraldo Perdomo cracked ESPN analyst Kiley McDaniel's rookie rankings published on Thursday.
1 day ago
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel flips the rosin bag during the second inning o...
Wills Rice

D-backs avoid sweep with rollercoaster win vs. Tigers in Keuchel’s debut

Dallas Keuchel and the Arizona Diamondbacks secured an 11-7 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday in his debut with the team.
2 days ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Daulton Varsho (12) celebrates his three-run home run against the Detroit Tig...
Arizona Sports

Watch: D-backs’ Daulton Varsho clears pool to cap 5-run inning vs. Tigers

D-backs CF Daulton Varsho sent a 435-foot blast at Chase Field to punctuate a five-run sixth inning Sunday against the Detroit Tigers. 
3 days ago
Get a grip: Arizona Diamondbacks to install humidor at Chase Field