Saying that their “ongoing commitment to providing the best ballpark experience includes maintaining the safety and security of our fans,” the Cincinnati Reds announced they would extend their netting to the ends of each dugout, starting in the 2018 season. Most teams currently have netting that protects the seats behind and near home plate but ends at each dugout, as MLB recommends but does not mandate for its 30 franchises.
The San Diego Padres also said they would install netting to the end of each dugout in time for the 2018 season, following “several months of planning.” The Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners were less specific about what they would do with their netting, but both pledged to expand it at their ballparks.
“This is an issue that we’ve been concerned about for some time,” Mariners president Kevin Mather said. “We still have some details to work out, but the bottom line is expanded netting at Safeco Field is going to happen.”
In the game between the Yankees and Minnesota Twins, players on the field were clearly upset, with some shedding tears, as medical personnel attended to the girl. Witnesses said the toddler was hit in the face by a ball off the bat of New York’s Todd Frazier, and she was taken to a hospital, where she remains in unspecified condition.
After the game, a still-emotional Frazier said that he thought “every stadium should have” extended netting, which the Yankees lack. “All parks should have it all the way down,” the Yankees’ CC Sabathia added.
While the Yankees said in August that they were “seriously exploring extending the netting before the 2018 season to the outside of the Yankees’ dugout and the outside of the visitors’ dugout,” the Mets had already added the protection in July. Officials with White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers said Thursday that their teams would explore the issue of expanded netting.
“Right now, there’s constant evaluation and ballpark operations works very closely with the Commissioner’s Office to get their recommendations,” Tigers vice president of communications Ron Colangelo told the Detroit Free Press. “Obviously, we’re looking at ways that we can enhance fan safety.”
Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said he was “surprised there’s not more injuries” on balls hit sharply into the stands. “There always seems to be some close calls,” he added (via TSN). “I mean, there was a broken bat that went in the stands here the other night. If that catches somebody wrong, it could pierce them.
“I would be in favor of [more netting]. No doubt.”
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Angels told the Los Angeles Times that the team is in compliance with MLB guidelines and has no immediate plans to extend its netting. The Times’s Helene Elliott noted that netting “commonly extends to the foul poles in Japanese baseball.”
“The events at yesterday’s game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday. “Over the past few seasons, MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks.
“In light of yesterday’s event, we will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”