Measurements show fences longer than marked

WASHINGTON -- Armed with a 300-foot yellow tape measure,
Washington Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen decided to see for
himself Friday just how far a ball must be hit to clear the wall at
RFK Stadium.
About four hours before Friday night's game against Roger
Clemens and the Houston Astros, Guillen was on the field with other
Nationals players and members of the coaching staff, checking the
measurements from home plate to the fences.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the Nationals had
brought in a surveyor to check the distances and found that it was
394.74 feet to the mark on the wall in left-center that read
"380," and 395 feet to the mark in right-center that read
"380." The team moved the green pads with the "380" markings
closer to the respective foul lines to be more accurate.
Guillen and a few other players said they felt vindicated.
"Every ball I hit to the warning track I write down. I should
have 29 homers. I should be up there with Derrek Lee, Andruw
Jones," said Guillen, who has hit 18 of his 19 homers on the road.
"You see the balls I'm hitting in those ballparks away from
here," he added. "I just want to find out the truth on my own."
He and other members of the Nationals have maintained the
distance markers were incorrect.
"It wasn't easy to hit homers here. We knew the reason. Guys
have played enough to know that when they hit a ball good to the
gap, it's not 380 there," catcher Brian Schneider said. "The
truth's out now, so now we know."
Through Thursday, 47 homers were hit in 47 games in Washington,
by far the fewest at any park in the majors. Kansas City ranks
second, with 61 homers in 46 home games, an average of 1.33.
The Nationals entered Friday with 70 homers overall, last in
"I'm not complaining. Don't change a thing. We're just happy
the way everything is going in this ballpark," Guillen said. "If
I have to hit 30, 40 homers on the road, I will."
He said that when he checked the distance to the "410" sign in
straightaway center, he got 412 feet -- but that was over the bump
of the mound.
Guillen also measured down the left field line. First base coach
Don Buford stood on the tape measure to keep it from moving while
second baseman Jose Vidro crouched to try to help align the tape.
Manager Frank Robinson was out there, too, along with third base
coach Dave Huppert and pitching coach Randy St. Claire.
"A couple of ballplayers on the ballclub have allowed the
ballpark to kind of get in their heads a little bit. I'm not that
concerned about it," Robinson said. "Each stadium is different.
If every stadium was the same except this one, it would be
something to be concerned about."