It's not uncommon for pitchers to meet up with their opposition before games and swap trade secrets: pitch grips, deliveries and ballplayer wisdom are all part of the secret language that hurlers share amongst themselves. But a pitcher swapping tips with the opposition's groundskeeper?
That's a little less usual, but simply par for the course (excuse the pun) for one of the Padres' many offseason acquisitions and new closer, Mark Melancon.
That's because Melancon -- a three-time All-Star and one-time MLB saves leader -- moonlights with his very own turf installation company, Diamond Turf.
"Arizona's grounds crew was great," Melancon told me in a phone call recently. "I've spent a lot of time with them. Toronto last year, spent a lot of time in Texas. You know, every field's done a little bit different. You can learn from each of those grounds crews that deal with that type of field.
"Obviously, they're trying to replicate something for 81 games that's perfect to a natural product," Melancon added. "And so they're very picky on the ball bounce and stuff like that. Depending on the infill that you use, yeah, it will bounce differently."