he playing surface at 93-year-old Wrigley Field has been called everything from a garbage dump to a cow pasture over the years. In wake of pointed criticism by visiting personnel in recent days, not even their Cubs counterparts have much good to say about it.

The playing surface at 93-year-old Wrigley Field has been called everything from a garbage dump to a cow pasture over the years.

In wake of pointed criticism by visiting personnel in recent days, not even their Cubs counterparts have much good to say about it.

“It’s not comfortable,” Alfonso Soriano said of the outfield. “It’s not OK. It’s not OK. It’s not like a regular outfield, so it’s not comfortable. It has a lot of holes, you know what I mean? Every time they hit a ground ball, you have to be careful. A normal outfield is like a plane. This one has like little holes in it.

“I’m more worried about when the ball comes (to him), not about injuring my leg. I’m more worried about the ball maybe taking a tricky bounce.”

Last week, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. had his season come to an end with a mishap in right field that ended with a groin injury.

“The field isn’t up to par with the other ballparks,” Matt Murton said. “You just try to make plays the best you can and hope nothing bad happens out there.”

The field has ranked at or the near the bottom in annual polls for decades, but because of financial considerations, team management didn’t consider it to be a priority. The project to improve it would cost upward of $1.5 million.

General manager Jim Hendry said the issue would be revisited after the season.

Heavy rains and a Police concert made the conditions that much worse at the ancient ballpark in recent months.

“Since they had the concert, it has been a little rough out there,” manager Lou Piniella said. “It really has been, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Earlier in the series, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the latest team to sound off about the outdated conditions.

“The outfield is horrendous to play on -- the worst I’ve ever seen,” Pirates skipper Jim Tracy said. “It’s not a major league-caliber outfield. It’s really bad.”

Said Nate McLouth, “It’s terrible. It’s rock hard, and it looks like a dozen cows have been grazing out there.”

The beaten Trach

Steve Trachsel pitched a simulated game in preparation for his scheduled start at Florida on Thursday afternoon.

Last week, Trachsel was skipped in the rotation in favor of Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly, each of whom pitched on three days’ rest.

Since Trachsel was acquired from Baltimore on Aug. 31, the veteran is 1-2 with a 7.62 ERA in three starts. Opponents have hit .377 against him.

Up to speed?

The hope was that Kerry Wood would regain some of the velocity that he lost in recent years.

Wood shed 48 pounds in the offseason and rarely has been clocked above 95 mph this season.

“I don’t know,” Piniella said of the prospects for improvement. “I’m hoping. I really am.

“As long as we keep him nice and rested, he has been throwing the ball better and better. It’s my job to space him out as much as we can and keep him rested.”

Mistaken identity

Scott Eyre showcased a Rawlings glove that was branded with the name “Stevie Ire,” which Piniella had mistakenly called him earlier this season.

“I thought it would be funny,” Eyre said. “I don’t think ‘Demp’ (Ryan Dempster) thought that I would do it, because I’ve had the other glove since 2003.”

Movin’ on up

Piniella earned his 1,600th career victory in the series opener and moved past Tommy Lasorda into 16th place on the all-time list for managerial wins.

“I’m not into that too much, but I know that I passed Lasorda,” Piniella said.

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