Part of the company line about moving Oswaldo Arcia to left field was the notion that the overhang in right field was preying on Arcia's mind. Getting Arcia away from the overhang, Terry Ryan predicted this spring, will make him a better outfielder.
There's an underappreciated aspect to left field at Target Field, however. It's the sunfield in that park, and while that may be less crucial than it was in an era when night games were rare, it is still a factor at times.
I was in the lower left field seats for the home opener, a bright sunny day with a 3 p.m. start, which meant that the sun was getting progressively lower. Alex Gordon, the Kansas City left fielder who is by consensus the best at the position in the game, dealt with the sun in large part by taking flyballs side saddle -- he would, in effect, turn his back on the sun and catch the ball to the side, rather than straight on. By game's end, Gordon's center field partner, Lorenzo Cain, was shielding his eyes with his glove on each pitch.
Arcia made a nice catch in left-center Monday, a play that had his back to the sun. He clanked a ball near the left-field line, a play that had him running toward the sun.
The sun was an issue Monday. But major league outfielders should be able to cope with the sun. It's part of the job. Gordon and Cain found a way to do so. Arcia was less adept at it. That had nothing to do with the overhang, and everything to do with his outfielding skills, or lack of them.