HOUSTON -- Tim Anderson and Rick Renteria lent their support Thursday to extended netting after a foul ball seriously injured a young New York Yankees fan.
The day after a 2-year-old girl was struck in the face by a ball, the White Sox shortstop said he tries to ensure his own family only sits in areas covered by protective netting. That means Anderson’s wife and 1 1/2-year-old daughter rarely sit down the line or behind the dugout. Only 10 of 30 baseball stadiums have netting that extends beyond the home plate side of each dugout as per the recommendation of Major League Baseball.
“I don’t like them sitting above the dugout or down the line -- it’s kind of the danger zone,” Anderson said. “Line drives go down there all throughout the game.”
“You hate to see that happen. Hopefully they’ll be able to extend nets down there to protect kids because there’s a lot of kids that sit that above the dugouts that the parents don’t pay attention to during the game, they’ve got their heads on their phones.”
Prior to the 2016 season, teams were encouraged by MLB to add netting for all seats within 70 feet of home plate.
But that still leaves plenty of fans in harm’s way. It’s surprising to see incidents similar to Wednesday’s -- which involved a line drive off the bat of ex-White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier -- don’t happen more often. As Anderson noted, baseball has a lot of downtime and because there isn’t constant action sometimes fans get distracted and look at their phones. That can be a recipe for danger for those sitting near to the field.
“Balls are flying off those bats at high rates of speed,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There is a chance for injury. Fans are consumed with not only watching the game, but they’re also taking care of a lot of different things that are going on. They might not be aware of balls in flight, even though they are warned about it.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to (extended netting).”
The White Sox extended their protective netting from the home plate side of each dugout before the start of last season. A team spokesperson said the club works closely with MLB on the topic.
“No one wants to see any fan injured at the ballpark, and our hearts go out to the young girl and her family in New York last night,” White Sox senior vice president of communications Scott Reifert said. “We felt badly for Todd Frazier as well. The White Sox work closely with MLB to continually review fan safety recommendations and the protective netting question. It's a topic that we regularly discuss with MLB, and it likely will be discussed again on a league-wide basis during the offseason as well.”
Anderson said he would approve a change.
“When you see a line drive go into the stands you definitely hope it doesn’t hit anybody,” Anderson said. “Just want to keep all the fans safe, especially the kids.”