CLEVELAND — The MLB commissioner announced at the league's winter meeting that all teams will expand their netting to protect fans from foul balls.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that expanded netting will be in place at all 30 ballparks in time for next season for fan protection. Not all parks will necessarily have netting that extends to the foul poles. https://t.co/YGcfDjhJku— Bradford Doolittle (@bbdoolittle) December 11, 2019
ESPN's reporting does not indicate that the commissioner specified to where teams' netting must be expanded.
In a statement, the Cleveland Indians said they have plans to extend their netting next season.
“We can confirm our plans to have extended netting in place for the 2020 season. We will provide more details in January after we finalize those plans," an Indians spokesperson said.
This decision comes after multiple fans, including several children, were injured after being struck by a foul ball.
Last July, a child was hit by Francisco Lindor's foul ball at Progressive Field.
The child was transported to the hospital.
Lindor called for teams to extend the netting for fan safety after that incident.
“It sucks. I encourage every MLB team to put the nets all the way down. I know it’s all about the fans’ experience of interacting with players and I completely get that. You want to have that interaction with the fans, getting autographs and stuff, but at the end of the day we want to make sure everybody comes out of this game healthy and we gotta do something about it.” Lindor said. “It sucks. Everybody feels bad, and if we can put the nets a little bit further down I think it would be a lot better.”
The Indians extended the netting in the 2018 season to reach the ends of the dugouts on both sides of the field to comply with the league’s requests, and released this statement in May:
“We extended our netting past to the end of our dugouts before the 2018 season and continue to assess and review our netting and safety protocols after each season.”
Other incidents from this past season included a Chicago Cubs player who struck a child sitting down the left field line in May and a woman struck by a foul ball in Los Angeles in June.
The net expansion should help keep fans safe from foul balls.