Cal football team gets its first taste of life at AT&T Park 

Coach Jeff Tedford and the Cal football team started to make themselves right at home on Tuesday as the videoboard at AT&T Park read “San Francisco is Bears Territory” during their only preseason practice at their 2011 home.

“If our teammates are here and we’re together, then we’ll be together,” Tedford said. “It doesn’t matter where we are or where we practice.”

It was Cal’s 10th day of training camp and the team appeared loose as it got used to the dirt infield, ran 7-on-7 drills and ran into the padded outfield wall.

Tedford even took a leap into the wall after being called out by his players at the end of practice.

“This is really the only time we’ll be here before the first game,” Tedford said. “I want to make sure we have a chance to get a feel for the field.”

After practice had concluded, punter Bryan Anger claimed he could kick a ball from home plate into McCovey Cove in two kicks.

Two 40-plus yard kicks made believers out of his teammates.

But the dirt-to-grass transition can affect every player from the running backs to defensive backs to the
kicking game, Tedford said.

“Is [the dirt] slippery? Can your cleats fit in?” Tedford asked. “As much as we can get that experience, the better we’ll be.”

Junior running back Isi Sofele said the team has practiced at other baseball fields to prepare for the dirt at AT&T.

“It’s very hard to adjust to the dirt,” Solefe said. “Get our footwork down, see how [the ball] bounces.”

The field at AT&T, which has hosted an annual bowl game since 2002, will be Cal’s home during the renovation of Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

“I like coming out here, being in a different environment,” Sofele said. “But we’ve got to make this home.”

The Cal fans will also have to make the trek to San Francisco to see their team, but Solefe doesn’t see that as much of a problem.

“We’ll get all these fans out here,” Solefe said.

Cal will also play one game at Candlestick Park, their season opener against Fresno State on Sept. 3. But it is not all fun and games for the Bears, who finished under .500 for the first time under Tedford last season.

“We didn’t like what happened last year, the feeling of not getting to a bowl game,” Solefe said. “This offseason we really got at it.”

Cal last played at AT&T Park when it defeated Miami in the Emerald Bowl in 2008.

The Bears play their first of five games at AT&T Park on Sept. 17 against Presbyterian. A Thursday night ESPN game against Southern Cal on Oct. 13 is the highlight of the schedule in The City.

Cal in The City

Sept. 3*    vs. Fresno State     4 p.m.
Sept. 17    vs. Presbyterian    2:30 p.m.
Oct. 13    vs. USC    6 p.m.
Oct. 22    vs. Utah    TBA
Nov. 5    vs. Washington State    TBA
Nov. 12    vs. Oregon State    TBA

* At Candlestick Park, all others at AT&T Park

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Zack Farmer

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