DETROIT – The right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field make their long-delayed season opening Thursday for the Cubs’ series opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
But the more significant issue is whether more changes could – or should – be coming after a series of fan injuries from bats and balls, including a woman who suffered a serious head injury Friday in Boston when a piece of broken bat struck her.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday that his office planned to “react strongly” to the issue and determine if additional safety measures need to be taken.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green said in an email that the team has “not heard/learned of any immediate changes planned.”
The Cubs were involved in two fan injuries in an eight-day span in April.
On April 20 in Pittsburgh, Starlin Castro fouled back a pitch that hit a woman in the head through the stretched protective netting, causing a 23-minute delay as she was treated and taken to a hospital.
Seven days later at Wrigley Field, a man was injured when Addison Russell lost grip of his bat, which sailed into the stands and struck the man in the head. He also was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
“I’m certain there’s going to be something done,” said manager Joe Maddon, who was outspoken about the dangers of maple bats’ tendency to shatter in recent years before regulations decreased the incidence.
“I don’t want my kids sitting there, I know that, and my grandkids,” he said. “I definitely want them behind the net.
“It’s more about the bat than the ball,” he added. “It’s about the broken bats or the bat flying into the stands that I’d be more concerned about. I think you could run a net comfortably [further down the base lines], and the people that buy the tickets would know that in advance obviously.”
* * *
JACKSON ACTION? Maddon said he liked what he saw from Edwin Jackson’s 59-pitch, 3 1/3-inning relief stint Monday. But just because he stretched out that far and looked good doing it doesn’t make him a candidate to rejoin the rotation anytime soon if a need arises (Tsuyoshi Wada pitches Thursday trying to bounce back from a bad start).
“For me guys have to do things over a period of time before you really get truly excited and want to maybe do something differently,” he said. “And guys have to be bad over an extended period of time to want to do something differently, also. Wada’s been good. He’s been really good.”
* * *
DRAFT WRAP: The Cubs concluded the final day of the draft Wednesday selecting 12 pitchers in their final 30 picks, including Glenbrook South’s Fitz Stadler, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who has committed to Arizona State. The 32nd-rounder was 8-0 with a 0.81 ERA for the Titans.
Over the three days, the Cubs drafted 18 pitchers (including seven lefties), 10 infielders, eight outfielders and four catchers. Twenty-nine were college players.