In the past few weeks the Chicago White Sox, the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates have all announced plans to extend protective netting at their respective stadiums. Currently, there are no MLB ballparks that have protective netting to the foul poles in the outfield corners. The changes are expected to be made as soon as possible this season. 

The White Sox have plans to extend the netting all the way down the foul lines to the foul poles at Guaranteed Rate Field. 

Unlike the White Sox, the Nationals announced that the netting at Nationals Park will not extend all the way to the foul poles. This image shows where the netting will added:

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums,” Nationals owner Mark Lerner wrote in a statement. “I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive. I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans.”

The Nationals say the extended netting will be installed during the All-Star break in July. The team says all netting at the ballpark will be replaced with a knot-less product that “offers a higher degree of transparency than the traditional knotted netting.”

The Pirates are the latest team to announce plans to extend the protective netting at PNC Park. In an interview with KDKA, Pirates team president Frank Coonelly said that the club is in the active planning stages to extend the netting to or near the foul poles. The timeline for the extended netting remains uncertain, Coonelly admitted, but the team decided that they are not going to wait for an MLB directive to do so.

All 30 MLB teams extended netting to the end of each dugout before the 2018 season, but the decision to extend the netting beyond was left up to each individual team. 

After a young fan was hit by a foul ball during the Cubs-Astros game at Minute Maid Park on May 29, the topic of implementing full, protective netting at ballparks picked up steam. On Wednesday, the family’s lawyer shared an update on the young fan. She suffered a skull fracture, had a seizure and was hospitalized for several days. The family is also looking into potential legal action.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant called for more netting at MLB ballparks after the incident

Bryant isn’t the only player who has spoken out for more netting either; here’s what White Sox pitcher Evan Marshall told the Chicago Sun Times after a woman was hospitalized after being hit by a foul ball at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 10:

“MLB has taken a few steps in the right direction extending the netting, but, honestly, it can go all the way down to the pole and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all. There’s not a player in here that wouldn’t be in favor of that.”

White Sox first baseman Yonder Alonso also supports the idea:

“I’m a big believer in nets all around. No. 1 is the safety of not only the players but of the fans and everybody in the baseball stadium. That’s the reason why we have nets [behind] the dugout. Two feet behind us are the fans, and they don’t have a net. That two feet is nothing when a ball is coming 110 miles per hour.”

It’ll be interesting to see if many — if not all — of the other 27 MLB teams will soon follow suit and move for more protective netting.

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