The Cubs Are Calling for More Safety Netting at MLB Stadiums After Being Terrified When a Girl Was Hurt by a Foul Ball

May 30, 2019 - 4:48 pm

(670 The Score) Joining a growing chorus of individuals across baseball, Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer on Thursday morning called for the protective netting at MLB ballparks to be extended farther down the foul lines, one night after a foul ball off the bat of Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. struck a young girl in Houston and hospitalized her.

"Any netting they do add is a good thing, because we don't really want to see those scenes in the future," Hoyer said on the "Mully & Haugh Show."

"It's a league-wide issue, and Wrigley would obviously comply with whatever goes on on a league basis. I've always been really supportive of having netting all the way down the line. Especially with smartphones now, it's so difficult. You're not paying attention all the time. The balls are going faster and harder than ever. There's just no way to react. Our fielders can barely react at times with a hard line drive. To expect a parent or a kid to react to a ball that flys into the stands, it's not realistic. I think that shouldn't be part of going to a game. Going to a game should be about spending time with the family and being entertaining and watching these great athletes. The idea of getting hurt should not be at all be a part of the equation.

"When the ball is on a line close to the dugouts or beyond the dugouts, there's just no time to react. I think we have to admit that and realize it. I'd always be in support of netting that area."

Almora hit a line drive into the stands down the third-base line in the fourth inning on Wednesday evening, and it struck a young girl. A man quickly scooped up the girl and dashed up the stairs for medical help. The Houston Astros didn't release many details about her condition, other than to say she had been taken to the hospital, but multiple reports out of the Houston area indicated that the girl had avoided serious harm.

Amid the scary incident, Almora was emotional and visibly shaken, appearing overcome with tears as he buried his head in his hands and later his glove. Hoyer's heart ached for Almora and the young girl.

Almora and Cubs teammate Kris Bryant voiced their support for extending the protective netting in the aftermath of Wednesday evening.

"He's got a huge heart," Hoyer said of Almora. "I remember when Theo (Epstein) and I flew down to meet with him before the (2012) draft, sitting there and he's talking about his grandparents and his family and he was, even back then, emotional talking about his family and about how much mean to him. He's just a great kid. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Obviously, all the concern is with the little girl, but I think that everyone got a little bit of a window into his heart and just how much people mean to him and how much kids mean to him.

"It makes you realize, obviously we don't want fans to get hit with balls, but we also don't want -- the players take the brunt of that. When you see a player hit a pitcher with a line drive, he feels horrible and has tremendous guilt. I think that's multiplied exponentially when it's a little kid in the crowd."

Following recommendations from MLB, by the start of the 2018 season, all 30 big league teams had expanded their protective netting to at least the far ends of the dugouts after several fans were injured by foul balls in 2017. But the netting at Minute Maid Park in Houston only extends to the end of the visiting team's dugout. The girl was sitting in what looked to be the third or fourth row about 10 feet past where the netting ends.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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