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Should MLB expand netting at ballparks?

Posted: 3:50 PM, Dec 09, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-09 20:50:09Z

At this week's MLB Winter Meetings, owners are considering a proposal to expand netting at all MLB ballparks in time for the 2016 season. During the 2015 season, there were several instances of fans being seriously injured by batted balls.

Despite dozens injured every year by batted and thrown balls, there has not been a documented fatality from a batted ball or bat in the stands in decades. That does not mean it is not possible.

In 2007, former MLB third baseman Mike Coolbaugh was killed while coaching first base for a minor league team. MLB and minor league teams all agreed to require base coaches wear helmets while in the coaching box during the 2008 season. 

 

Currently, ballparks have netting in the sections behind home plate. But some have called for expanded netting to go past the dugouts. One of those calling for expanded netting is MLB pitcher Justin Verlander, who expressed his frustration after seeing a fan struck in August. 

"More protective measures need to be put in place in all ball parks!  Players are sick of seeing injuries that could easily be avoided!" Verlander tweeted. "I hope the fan tonight is okay! Get well soon. MLB should make changes before it's too late."

On Tuesday, MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre said discussions are underway, but no decision has been made. 

"There have been some recommendations made to ownership and to teams. I'm sure we're certainly aware of it and sensitive to it. Again, like I said, we don't carry guys off the field; we certainly don't want fans in the stands to not stay healthy," Torre said. "So we are closer than we've been."

But some owners have been reluctant, as it reduces the opportunities for fans to catch balls both batted and tossed into the stands.