Cubs, White Sox weigh in on MLB’s ballpark safety-netting issue

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Todd Frazier of the New York Yankees reacts after a child was hit by a foul ball off his bat Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

White Sox players strongly advocated expanded netting at major-league ballparks Thursday, a day after a 2-year-old girl was struck by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of former teammate Todd Frazier at Yankee Stadium.

Frazier and other players were visibly distraught after seeing the girl, sitting in the fifth row beyond the third-base dugout with her grandparents, receive attention as the awful scene unfolded. The toddler was carried off on a stretcher and transported to a hospital, where she remained Thursday, as some players cried on the field.

“I couldn’t watch it,’’ Sox infielder Tyler Saladino said. “You should find a way to protect that area. It’s not something you accept and say, ‘This is the way it is, we’re going to leave it and we’re going to accept the fact that somebody can get hurt badly.’ ’’

Commissioner Rob Manfred said he will increase baseball’s efforts to install protective netting in ballparks.

“The events at yesterday’s game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Over the last few seasons, MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks. In light of yesterday’s event, we will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”

The Cubs and Sox are among 20 teams that don’t have protective netting beyond the dugouts. The Reds announced they would install additional netting that spans across the length of the dugouts on each side of Great American Ball Park by Opening Day 2018.

The Sox extended netting behind home plate from dugout to dugout before the 2016 season “based on the recommendations made by the commissioner’s office,’’ Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert said. “Our netting does not go to the ends or beyond the dugout. No one wants to see a fan injured at the ballpark, and our hearts go out to the young girl and her family. We felt badly for Todd, as well.

‘‘We work closely with MLB to continually review fan-safety recommendations and protective netting. It’s a topic that we regularly discuss with MLB, and it will likely be discussed on a leaguewide basis during the offseason, as well.”

The Cubs also use the minimum requirement on netting.

“We will continue to work with Major League Baseball to discuss and explore ways to ensure the safest possible environment for fans,’’ Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green said.

Players have long advocated more protection for fans.

“Players don’t want to hurt somebody,’’ Sox right-hander James Shields said. ‘‘I’ve seen too many foul balls go in the stands and hurt people. Safety is needed. Not everyone brings a glove to the stadium, not everyone can catch a baseball, let alone one that is moving 110 miles an hour and slicing.’’

Saladino said players in the dugout will back away from the top step or “scoot over” on the bench when certain hitters are prone to fouling pitches off depending on the pitcher they’re facing. Sox shortstop Tim Anderson tries to get seats behind a screen for his wife and toddler-aged daughter.

“I don’t like them sitting above the dugout or down the line,” Anderson said. “It’s the danger zone.’’

Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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