WASHINGTON — The cold winter weather has taken its toll on D.C. area residents, including John Turnour, the Washington National’s head groundskeeper.
For him, it’s been a constant battle to make sure Nationals Park’s field is in tip-top shape for the team’s home opener Friday afternoon — a task made more difficult by the ever-fluctuating weather in the metro area.
“Weather has been a challenge. It’s been a roller coaster ride,” Turnour says. “When we get 7 inches of snow 12 days before first pitch, it’s kind of a little bit of an alarm for us.”
Turnour says the grounds crew has been putting in lots of time to make sure the field — particularly the dirt — is ready for the Nationals home opener against the Atlanta Braves. The snow, rain and cold weather can impact the dirt, making it too wet.
“A lot of people think it’s all about the grass to get ready for opening day. I would probably say 85 to 90 percent of our work leading up to opening day is literally dealing with all of our dirt,” he says, adding that the crew spends a majority of the time with the dirt on the mounds, plates, bullpens and infield to make it just right for the players.
The grounds crew lost a lot of time preparing the field because of the snow, he says. But now everything is in good condition for Friday’s game, Turnour says.