Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

From Waterfront to Arm & Hammer, Thunder's home gets a makeover

TRENTON – After a long winter, the offseason officially ended on Tuesday when the Thunder met the media at Arm & Hammer Park. And while the players, especially touted outfielders Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott and Ramon Flores, were the star attraction, the park’s renovations also were on display.
The kitchen
Shortly after signing a naming-rights deal with Arm & Hammer over the winter, the team quickly went to work fitting the ballpark with massive renovations and upgrades that would benefit both the players and fans alike.

Among the most superficial changes are the two new videoboards in right and left-center field. At 21 feet tall by 68 feet wide, the right field board is now the widest in Double-A and the second widest in minor league baseball, behind only the Buffalo Bisons of the International League.

The video board in left-center field stands at 20 feet by 16 feet, a 400 percent increase over the previous scoreboard.

The Thunder’s radio booth was moved to accommodate an expanded production room, which is awash in new, top-shelf equipment. The additional bells and whistles include HD cameras and a new audio center. The improvements will also benefit the fans, who will be able to watch expanded instant replay and, for the first time at the ballpark, see pitch speed displayed.

Because of the makeover, the Thunder players themselves now find themselves surrounded by a far more luxurious setting.

The clubhouse itself was expanded to hold 12 new lockers, and what had previously been the manager’s office now houses lockers for the coaches and additional staff. Manager Tony Franklin will now reside in what was the umpire’s room.

The weight room
The expansion was especially necessary after last year’s flood of injuries left the clubhouse overflowing at times. It got the point where lockers had to be removed from the manager’s office to accommodate reliever Jon Meloan’s arrival.

“I think the whole renovation of the clubhouse is very, very nice,” Franklin said. “Obviously they sunk a lot of money into it to make these improvements, and the clubhouse area, the eating facility in there, the new weight room, it’s all done to make us feel better about ourselves and the franchise. I think all the moves are very, very good.”

Part of what a was an excess merchandise storage area has now become a new, spacious weight room and represents a size bump of nearly double the previous workout area. Besides extra space and new equipment, the workout area also includes rubber flooring and two flat-screen televisions.

The other part of the former merchandise room has become a video center, where players and coaches can go to dissect their latest at-bats and, if necessary, implement quick changes to their mechanics.

The hallways under the stadium also were replaced, and new flooring, paint and an industrial washer and dryer were added.

The Thunder’s season begins on Thursday, but Arm & Hammer Park won’t host a game until a week later, when the Flying Squirrels come calling from Richmond. When the first pitch is thrown, fans from all over the area will see just how the Thunder plan to kick off their celebration of 20 seasons of baseball.

NOTES: The Thunder also announced their initial starting rotation on Tuesday. They’ll hand the ball to Nik Turley on Thursday at Hadlock Field. He’ll be followed by Zach Nuding, Francisco Rondon, Matt Tracy and Caleb Cotham. If everything goes as planned, that means Rondon, a reliever with the Thunder last year, will start the team’s home opener on April 11. … Tracy threw a simulated game during the Media Day festivities on Tuesday. 


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