Ah, Tropicana Field — the dingy disaster that everyone loves to hate. Or, you know, just the dingy disaster that everyone hates.
Today, there may not be a person in the world that hates the Rays’ stadium more than Tampa Bay shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. That’s because the 29-year-old shortstop suffered a bizarre injury and needed to leave Tuesday night’s game in Tampa after a ball struck the stadium’s catwalk and wound up smacking him in the eye.
In the eighth inning of the Rays’ game against the Braves, Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. popped up what looked to be a routine foul ball behind home plate. But that ball struck a speaker attached to the catwalk, then ricocheted into fair territory in the infield. Hechavarria, who was understandably caught off-guard by the sequence, attempted to make a play on the ball as it headed toward him.
He dove for the ball, and it bounced off the Tropicana infield turf and ricocheted directly into his left eye. Hechavarria left the game with bruising and swelling, but luckily that was the extent of the damage done on the play.
And, for what it’s worth, the ball was ruled foul on the play.
This isn’t the first time that Tropicana’s catwalk has led to chaos and confusion, nor will it be the last. Call it quirky or call it infuriating, but that catwalk has gotten in the way of many batted balls over the years. To be fair, most of those balls off the catwalk don’t result in a player injury, but still.
The inconvenience of the structure is one of the reasons that “The Trop” has become one of the most undesirable stadiums to play in across Major League Baseball. It’s also gloomy, ugly, and a prison of misery. Just burn it to the ground already.