SAN DIEGO (AP) — Seven major league teams will expand protective netting to the foul poles and 15 others will expand their netting generally to the area in the outfield where the stands begin to angle away from the field, Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday.
The remaining eight clubs already have installed netting that extends substantially beyond the far end of the dugouts, Manfred said at the winter meetings.
Manfred said there are structural limitations at some ballparks involving the elbow in the outfield where the stands begin to angle away from the field.
“With an elbow like I’ve described, it’s very difficult to extend netting all the way to the foul pole because you need to run cables over what would be inside the field of play,” Manfred said. “The data does show that the risk of foul balls is less when you get out past these elbows. And, again, the stands begin to angle way from the field of play.”
The push for expanded netting began in December 2015, when MLB encouraged teams to have netting or screens in place between the ends of the dugouts closest to home plate. That push increased in 2017 after a number of fans were injured by foul balls and pieces of broken bats.
By opening day 2018, all 30 ballparks had netting that reached to at least the far ends of each dugout.