New terrain an experience for Kemp

New terrain an experience for Kemp

HOUSTON -- Matt Kemp admits that he doesn't have a whole lot of Major League experience, but he's still a bit baffled by what he's experienced in the Dodgers' series against the Astros.

Kemp patrols center field, and at Minute Maid Park, the Astros' home, that means dealing with "Tal's Hill" -- named for Tal Smith, the Astros former president of baseball operations. The hill in question is a steep incline in center field that rises between the warning track and the fence 436 feet away from home plate, and it's an obvious issue for every center fielder.

"What do I think of it?" Kemp said. "I wouldn't want it in my stadium."

The hill rarely comes into play, but when it does, it can wreak havoc on a player who's paying more attention to the flight of the ball than he is to the suddenly changing terrain.

"You have to really count your steps out there," Kemp said. "There's really no kind of practice for trying to run up a hill and trying to catch a ball. I don't think there is."

Did we mention there's a flagpole sticking out of the middle of Tal's Hill? It's true.

"The flagpole at least has a little padding on it," Kemp said. "It's a little weird. There's a lot of weird things going on out there in center field."

Michael Murphy is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.