After tripping over a bullpen mound and suffering a concussion last year, San Francisco Giants outfielder Mac Williamson is arguing in favor of moving Oracle Park‘s bullpens.
Oracle Park is one of a very small number of Major League Baseball ballparks with bullpens on the field in foul territory, a design feature the facility has sported since its 2000 opening. Although it is a unique feature, it has also raised questions about player safety, particularly since Williamson’s injury last season. Williamson tripped over the left field bullpen mound while attempting to retrieve a foul ball during an April 2018 game and slammed into a wall, causing him to suffer a concussion.
The concussion ultimately had an adverse effect on the remainder of Williamson’s 2018 campaign, and he dealt with symptoms into the fall. Currently a member of the Giants 25-man roster, Williamson believes that the bullpens should be relocated, citing player safety as his primary concern. More from NBCBayArea.com:
“Oracle has a lot of unique features about it, but in my opinion I don’t think any feature is unique enough to put a player at risk,” Williamson said. “It’s not that cool or special or fun, and I know there’s a lot of talk about how they’ve been there a long time and (the Giants) have won with them there and now all of a sudden they’re losing and this, that, and the other, but that’s not the point.
“The point isn’t to move them so we can win or move them so it’s easier to hit home runs. Sure, that’s a byproduct of it, but in my opinion it’s move them for safety.”
Williamson tripped on the bullpen mound adjacent to left field last April 24 while trying to catch a Bryce Harper pop-up with two on and two outs in a tie game. He slammed into the wall separating the field from the seats and suffered a concussion. Looking back at the collision, perhaps it’s lucky the injuries weren’t worse.
Regardless, the concussion sent Williamson to the DL and he was never the same when he returned, dealing with symptoms into the fall. Williamson ended up back in the minors and had his season end prematurely so he could try to get healthy.
Oracle Park is one of just three active MLB facilities that features bullpens on the field in foul territory, joining the Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field and the Oakland A’s Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The number had stood at four until 2017, when the Chicago Cubs moved the bullpens at Wrigley Field from foul territory to underneath the bleachers as part of a renovation. In Oracle Park’s case, there is likely to be continued debate about whether the bullpens are relocated in the future, especially with Giants officials discussing the possibility of moving in the outfield fences.
Photo, taken in 2015 when Oracle Park was still known as AT&T Park, by Mark Cryan.
RELATED STORIES: AT&T Park Bullpens Unlikely to Move