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Change may shift Citi Field perception

The Mets unveiled their new-look, drawn-in outfield wall to the media Tuesday, showing off a change in Citi Field's dimensions intended to result in "more neutral" playing conditions this season.

Originally designed as a ballpark that favors pitchers because of its expansive outfield and tall left-field wall, the Mets conceded following last season -- their third at their new ballpark -- that the original conditions were too extreme.

So in an effort to relieve frustration from their power hitters, the Mets brought in the left-center field wall by as much as 12 feet at its deepest point and lowered its height to 8 feet. They also eliminated the area in right field where the fence jutted out in an unusual trapezoid figure, creating a more linear wall and eliminating another 11 feet.

"It's one of those things where we wanted to have pitcher-friendly, and it was probably a little [too] friendly in that regard," said Dave Howard, executive vice president of business operations. "And we had the ability to make some adjustments and we think it will be more of a neutral, fair field."

While working on bringing in the outfield walls, the Mets also took the opportunity to change its color, draping it in the same blue that used to be present throughout Shea Stadium, Citi Field's predecessor.

The color change is another nod by Mets officials that they're listening to Mets fans who have been outspoken in their disappointment of how little Citi Field resembles their old home.

The change in dimensions also allowed the Mets to create a new seating area in left field, above the new 8-foot wall but below the old wall. There's one row of cushioned seats in front of a row of swivel stools, a design the Mets say was influenced by the seats above Fenway Park's Green Monster.

Citi Field's capacity, including the new seats, increases to 41,922 this season, the team said.


Mets hammer Nova

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Maybe the Yankees' starting pitching isn't so deep, after all.

Ivan Nova was hit hard again Tuesday in his final exhibition start, a 7-6 loss to the Mets in the first spring training game between the rivals since 1996.

Struggling with his fastball location, Nova gave up five runs, eight hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. His ERA rose to 8.06.

"Today was one of the worst days of my life," said Nova, who hasn't resembled the pitcher who went 16-4 last year and became the Yankees' No. 2 starter for the playoffs. "I couldn't throw my fastball for strikes and I couldn't locate my pitches, and I don't feel good about that."

The Yankees entered spring training with six pitchers for five slots, with Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia competing for three jobs behind CC Sabathia and Hideki Kuroda. Then Andy Pettitte ended his retirement, giving them seven people for five jobs. Pineda's on the disabled list because of inflammation of the shoulder tendon.


Texas tornadoes

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Workers at Rangers Ballpark took shelter in hallways when a strong storm front passed through the area that included tornadoes in other parts of the region. There was no structural damage reported at the ballpark.