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Team planning to extend protective netting

Jorge Castillo, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers plan to extend protective netting to shield fans from foul balls at Dodger Stadium, a team spokesperson said Monday, a day after a woman was hit in the head by a line drive and hospitalized.

The spokesman said a date for the addition has not been determined. The club, which could wait until next season, released the following statement:

"Fan safety is of the utmost importance to the Dodgers and during the offseason, we began the process of studying how the netting at Dodger Stadium could be configured to provide better protection for our fans. Once this study is completed, the team will implement the recommended changes and extend the netting at Dodger Stadium. The team will provide more information on the project timeline and scope when available."

The Dodgers are the third team in recent weeks to announce it will install more netting in its ballpark, joining the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals, who both said they will extend the netting from the end of the dugouts to the foul poles.

Teams have been reluctant to install more netting out of fear fans would complain that their sight lines are compromised, notably season-ticket holders who bought their tickets expecting a particular experience.

But calls for increased netting have amplified following several recent incidents. Last August, 79-year-old Linda Goldbloom died four days after a foul ball struck her in the head at Dodger Stadium, and this season a young boy was struck by a ball during batting practice. In May, a line drive hit a young girl at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The fan was hospitalized.

Last week, Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill -- a 39-year-old, 15-year veteran -- reached out to the players union to support extending netting at all ballparks. Cody Bellinger, who hit the foul ball that struck the fan Sunday, said it would be "a smart decision" to add netting.

 

"One more fan having a severe injury or, in a really unfortunate situation, a death is something that is unacceptable," Hill said. "You come to the ballpark for a reprieve and to take a break from the hectic schedule of life to enjoy watching us go out there and play. And you want to feel comfortable and safe."

NO HOME RUN DERBY FOR BELLINGER

Bellinger said he doesn't plan on participating in the home run derby during the All-Star break in Cleveland, but would consider taking part next year in Los Angeles. The 23-year-old was third in the majors with 25 home runs entering Monday. He took part in the competition as a rookie in 2017, reaching the semifinals.

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