A child was taken to a hospital after being struck by a foul ball during a game Wednesday between the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.
The Astros, who hosted the game at Minute Maid Park, said in a statement that they were not able to disclose any more details, other than to confirm that the child was taken to a hospital.
“The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family,” the team said in the statement.
The foul ball, a fourth inning line drive into the stands along the third-base line, came off the bat of the Cubs’ Albert Almora Jr. The 25-year-old outfielder immediately appeared concerned and grew visibly upset.
After taking a few steps away from the batter’s box, Almora crouched by home plate, where he was consoled by teammate Jason Heyward and Cubs Manager Joe Maddon. Other players, as well as umpires, also appeared to be shaken up.
In the bottom half of the inning, Almora took the field and went over to the section of the stands near where the child was struck. He shared an emotional moment with a member of the stadium’s security staff.
According to the Associated Press, the child, identified as a young girl, was picked up and rushed away by a man who appeared to be accompanying her.
Another fan attending the game told the Houston Chronicle that he followed the pair up the stairs after retrieving the ball that struck the child. He described the child as “alert” and “conscious.” ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported that the initial prognosis was positive, citing sources.
The girl was seated just past where protective netting extends to the end of the visitors’ dugout. The incident renewed calls for all MLB teams to extend the netting.
“Obviously, I want to put a net around the whole stadium,” Almora told reporters after the game.
Still distraught, he struggled to hold back his emotions as he discussed what happened.
"Right now, I’m just praying and I’m speechless,” he said, according to ESPN. “I’m at loss of words. Being a father, two boys … but God willing, I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. But just prayers right now, and that’s all I really can control.”
He said was trying to keep his composure during the at-bat.
“But when that half-inning was over I just couldn’t hold it anymore,” Almora said.
Almora said the Cubs offered to remove him from the game, but he thought he would have struggled more mentally if he had left.
After several fans were struck by hard-hit balls in 2017, including an incident in which a young girl was taken by stretcher from Yankee Stadium, MLB announced that all of its teams would extend netting at least as far as the dugouts for the 2018 season.
“The safety and security of our fans in the ballpark is obviously really, really important to us,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the time.
But MLB took some criticism for not mandating that the protective material go much further down each foul line. In March, the husband of a Los Angeles Dodgers fan killed after being struck in the head by a batted ball said he would never return to Dodger Stadium until the team installed more netting. Another fan at Dodger Stadium was hit by a foul ball Wednesday night, according to images from the telecast.
Following Wednesday’s game in Houston, Chicago’s Kris Bryant reiterated his call for Major League Baseball to extend the netting around the field of play to better protect fans, telling ESPN’s Jeff Passan: “There’s a lot of kids coming to the games — young kids who want to watch us play, and the balls come in hard. I mean, the speed of the game is quick, and I think any safety measure we can take to, you know, make sure that the fans are safe, we should do it.”