The installation of natural grass at Rogers Centre was almost a given under the old Toronto Blue Jays' regime headed by Paul Beeston, who said repeatedly that he would like to have it in place by the 2018 season.
Now that he is running the baseball club, Mark Shapiro is adopting a more cautious approach, saying natural grass is just one of a list of expensive infrastructure undertakings that will be looked into.
"We're going to have to prioritize," Shapiro said on Thursday when asked if the 2018 timetable for indoor sod is still on track. "It's like anything in life, you're not going to be able to do the entire laundry list. On that list likely will be grass, once we are certain it can be done, and then understand the cost implications of doing it."
Listening to the Blue Jays' newly minted president and chief executive officer talk on the subject during a luncheon meeting with the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, you came away with the sense that grass at Rogers Centre is somewhat of a pipe dream.
Shapiro said it would be improper to suggest that the transition to grass is something he is throwing dirt over.
"I didn't say that," he said. "I said you need to have a firm handle on what the entire scope of capital projects that you want to accomplish are. With that will be some infrastructure that has to happen in order to keep the building functional."
Those projects would include ongoing improvements to the roof, concrete work to prevent leaks, new seats and perhaps even a new scoreboard.
"They'll be things that need to be dealt with," Shapiro said. "There won't be an option. And then there will be a list of other things that directly impact fans and those would be the way we configure the seating bowl, the amenities within the ballpark."
Grass, he said, will be one of the things to consider "along with the cost associated with it."
Shapiro did say that dirt basepaths are a distinct possibility for Rogers Centre, with installation a possibility for the 2016 season.
During the BBWAA meeting, the results of the chapter's voting on the yearly Blue Jays player awards were also announced with third baseman Josh Donaldson, the American League most valuable player for 2015, the obvious unanimous choice as the team's player of the year.
Marco Estrada was selected as Toronto's pitcher of the year with David Price, who joined the team just before the July 31 trade deadline, finishing a distant second.
Kevin Pillar, whose defensive prowess in centre field was a revelation after injuries pressed him into full-time duty for the first time in his career, was selected as the team's most improved player while 20-year-old Roberto Osuna, who tallied 20 saves after taking over the closer's role, was voted the top rookie.
The John Cerutti "Good Guy" Award was given to Alex Anthopoulos, the Toronto general manager who quit the club after guiding the Blue Jays to their first playoff appearance in 22 years.
The installation of grass at Rogers Centre would be an enormous financial undertaking, which would include a new artificial lighting system and drainage system. The floor is currently covered by AstroTurf, which was installed for the start of the 2015 season.
The feasibility of changing to grass is currently being studied by the University of Guelph, which is expected to have a report ready for the Jays by spring.
In the meantime, Shapiro said he likes what he sees with the current artificial playing surface at Rogers Centre.
"I feel like, watching from a distance, the way the new turf has played, it doesn't detract from the game," he said. "It's obviously a game that's more fun to watch on natural grass. But being a dome, I think the turf plays extremely well right now."
Shapiro was asked for his personal opinion if Rogers Centre needed to have real grass installed for the baseball team.
"My opinion is we don't need it," he said. "My opinion is clearly it would be better. It's just a question of the alternatives and what are we going to have to choose between.
"Yeah, I like the game better, I think everybody likes the game better on natural grass. Do we need it? No."
New Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins also attended the meeting along with Tony LaCava, the senior vice-president of baseball operations and assistant GM.
Although the Blue Jays lost a lot of pitching depth after the conclusion of the season, including starters David Price and Mark Buehrle, Atkins said he feels confident about the rotation heading into next year.
"I think, given where the Blue Jays were at the end of last season and what players left and the acquisitions that have been made to date I feel incredible about what has been accomplished from the beginning of the off-season to today," he said.
Those moves include the signing of free-agent starter J.A. Happ and the trade for Jesse Chavez, who will also vie for one of the starting spots.
Atkins also said the team continues to build depth in the minors and will soon announce the acquisition of three pitchers who will likely be ticketed to start the season at Toronto's Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.
Although the Blue Jays have not yet made any formal announcement, one of those players is reportedly Wade LeBlanc, a veteran lefty who played in Japan last season and was in the Los Angeles Angels' organization in 2014.