Blue Jays to extend protective netting for 2020 season

Sports

Toronto Blue Jays’ Jacob Waguespack pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays will extend protective netting at Rogers Centre next season, joining other teams that have taken measures after foul balls injured fans.

The team also announced Tuesday that it will extend the nets next season at its spring training home in Dunedin, Florida.

There was no announcement on the length and height of the new netting at Rogers Centre. Baseball’s first retractable roof stadium, which opened as SkyDome in 1989, has single rows of “In the Action” seats beyond the first and third base dugouts that jut out from the main stands. The lower level of seating curves into each outfield corner, and foul territory narrows to inches approaching the wall.

The stadium is used for concerts and other events beside baseball.

Last month, the Chicago White Sox became the first team in the major leagues to extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole. The White Sox announced the safety measure in June, a week after a foul ball at their home park hit a woman in the head and sent her to the hospital.

The Washington Nationals also extended their netting to each foul pole in the middle of this season. Other teams have announced plans for future extensions.

Several fans, including a 2-year-old girl in Houston and a 3-year-old boy in Cleveland, have been injured by hard-hit fouls this season. Many players and fans have implored Major League Baseball to require pole-to-pole netting covering foul territory at every ballpark.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said extending protective netting down foul lines is a team decision. Before the 2018 season, MLB mandated netting extend to the far end of each dugout. That’s when the Blue Jays also added 10 feet to the protective screen behind home plate, raising it to 28 feet.

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