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MLB to keep monitoring netting issue after child is hit

May 30, 2019
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A young child is carried from the stands after being injured by a foul ball off the bat of Chicago Cubs' Albert Almora Jr. during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — Major League Baseball said Thursday it will keep examining its policy on protective netting at stadiums a day after a young fan was struck by a foul ball and hospitalized.

The girl was hit Wednesday night during the game between the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, an incident MLB called “extremely upsetting.”

MLB said in a statement it sends its “best wishes to the child and family involved.” It noted that clubs have “significantly expanded netting and their inventory of protected seats in recent years,” and the league will continue its “efforts on this important issue.”

Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit a line drive in the fourth inning into the field-level stands down the third base line, where it hit the girl.

After the game, the Astros said the fan was taken to a hospital, but did not disclose details on her condition. The team said Thursday the family has asked for privacy and will not provide updates.

Like all major league stadiums, Minute Maid Park has netting to protect fans near the field from foul balls. On the third base side in Houston, it 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.

Almora was asked if he thinks the netting should be expanded.

“Right now, obviously, I want to put a net around the whole stadium,” he said after the game.

Following recommendations from MLB, by the start of the 2018 season all 30 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.

The girl was picked up by a man who appeared to be with her and he dashed up the stairs not long after she was struck. A photo taken by The Associated Press showed the girl apparently conscious and crying as she was whisked away and nearby fans looked on.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said all teams should consider expanding netting beyond the far ends of the dugouts, as New York did ahead of the 2018 season.

“It’s something that going back to my playing days, a handful of times a year you have that scary moment,” he said. “When my wife and I started having kids and the first time they were in a park, one of my first things was make sure you’re sitting in a place where A) you’re paying attention or B) you’re protected. So, yeah, it can be a scary situation and I think it’s important that we do all we can to protect our fans.”

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