Sources: White Sox to extend protective netting

MLB

The Chicago White Sox will extend protective netting to both foul poles this summer, sources familiar with the proposal told ESPN, committing to additional safety measures a week after a woman at Guaranteed Rate Field was struck in the head by a foul ball and hospitalized.

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf spearheaded the plan, according to sources, and other high-ranking officials from other teams expect it to have a cascading effect, with teams around the league pledging to extend netting.

One source with knowledge of installing netting believes other teams could retrofit their stadiums before the end of the 2019 season.

The increased netting in Chicago was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Players have been outspoken about increasing safety measures after multiple foul ball injuries in recent weeks.

After a foul ball by Cubs center fielder Albert Almora injured a young girl in Houston, Chicago star Kris Bryant told ESPN every team should extend netting to the foul poles. “I think any safety measure we can take to make sure that the fans are safe, we should do it,” he said.

While the impetus for the White Sox wasn’t necessarily the June 10 incident in which an Eloy Jimenez line drive screamed into the stands and hit a woman, it accelerated their plans to extend the netting at Guaranteed Rate Field. The woman was released from Mercy Hospital and Medical Center last week.

Major League Baseball has left the decision of increased netting up to teams.

Before the 2018 season, every team committed to extending netting to the end of both dugouts after a spate of highly publicized foul ball injuries. Commissioner Rob Manfred said recently he expected the extended-netting conversation to “begin and continue into the offseason.”

Protective netting was not expected to be a priority discussion topic at the owners meetings that begin Wednesday, according to sources. The White Sox’s decision, however, could change that.

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