Crew uses Miller Park roof to battle shadows

MILWAUKEE -- Resuming a practice they first adopted in summer 2010, the Brewers on Saturday used Miller Park's movable roof to help combat the ballpark's notorious shadows, which can be downright dangerous for hitters and defenders during the mid-afternoon.

After a band of storms pushed through, stadium officials opened the roof only partially, leaving two of the moveable panels perched over right field to block most of the sun while maintaining an open-air feel.

Team and stadium officials have considered other remedies for the shadows, including tinting the huge bank of windows above the seats that face west-southwest. But they could not find a material that worked effectively.

"This game time, 3 o'clock, is the worst," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "And it's not just the hitters -- [Mark] Reynolds was playing third base and said he couldn't see a single ball off the bat."

The Brewers consulted the umpires and the Rockies before implementing the plan on Saturday.

"Being a hitter, shadows were your worst nightmare," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Usually the worst situation was the pitcher being in the shade and the sun being on the backdrop. That's when it's very difficult to see. I'm guessing that's what they're talking about, because I've never been here for a 3 o'clock start, I don't believe."

The shadows are the price the Brewers pay for the benefits of Miller Park's 12,000-ton, 10-1/2-acre retractable roof, which allowed the team to conduct business as usual on Saturday despite a line of storms that pushed through just after 12:30 p.m. CT. Without the roof, early batting practice and the relievers' daily throwing session would have been washed out.

"I can't tell you how nice it is when you come to the ballpark and you know we're going to take BP on time, you know everything's going to happen on time," Roenicke said. "Some places you go, every single time you go there, there's a rain delay or a rainout. This is huge."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.