Twins outfielder Shane Robinson was in the visitors’ dugout at Yankees stadium when he looked into the stands and saw something that made him uncomfortable.
“Right behind the on-deck circle, the net didn’t cover that area, and there was a little kid sitting there by herself,’’ Robinson said. “Her parents must have gotten up or something. I was like, ‘Man if a foul ball came that way, she’s gone.’ ’’
Unfortunately, there have been several moments in recent years — and this season — where what-if moments have become reality, foul balls and bats have flown into stands and caused serious injuries to fans.
Detroit Tigers star Justin Verlander called for the netting behind home plate to be extended after a fan was struck by a foul ball Aug. 21 at Comerica Park. Fenway Park as had multiple incidents, including June 5 when a woman was hit with a broken bat and needed brain surgery.
And the height of railing around ballparks is in question after Braves fan Gregory Murrey fell to his death from the upper deck at Turner Field on Aug. 29.
Major League Baseball has launched a study to see if changes need to be made to make viewing the game safer.
When StarTribune followers on twitter were asked about expanding nets, the response was overwhelmingly against the idea. Most of the sentiments were the same. When you purchase a ticket, you understand the risks of sitting in that seat. Pay attention, and get off your smartphones.
But players don’t want to see fans get injured, especially if it’s from a ball off their bat.
“With all the stuff that goes on in a ballgame, stuff on the scoreboard, concession people selling stuff,’’ Robinson said. “I mean, it’s hard for a player to be locked in the entire game.’’
Baseball has had one known death involving a foul ball. Alan Fish, then 14, died a few days after being struck in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium in 1970. The NHL installed netting above the glass behind each goal after Brittanie Cecil, then 13, was struck by a puck during a game in Columbus in 2002 and later died. Why wait for another tragedy before enacting change?
Torii Hunter was part of All-Star team that toured Japan in 2002 and played in stadiums where the netting reached from foul pole to foul pole.
“I thought that was cool,’’ he said, “but some people like the interaction.’’
Watching the game from behind a net would be an acquired taste — but a much safer experience.
“All it’s going to take is someone to have their kid right behind the dugout a have a line drive smoke them,’’ Twins lefthander Brian Duensing said. “I understand people who say that’s the risk you take, but does it need to be?’’
Cleveland righthander Corey Kluber, the reigning Cy Young winner, had to be scratched from his start Friday because of a strained right hamstring. He’s expected to miss a week, and its not clear if he will pitch again this season. Cleveland had a small chance of making wild card run before the injury.
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Detroit returned home this weekend after a rough road trip to Toronto and Kansas City during which the Tigers gave up 61 runs over six games, including 15 in a game — twice. It was the most any team has given up over a six-game road trip since the Cubs in 2010.
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Kansas City’s Johnny Cueto is one of the more entertaining pitchers in the game because of his Luis Tiant-like hip turn. But if he’s not mechanically sound he can be a mess.
And the Royals entered the weekend with Cueto having a 8.47 ERA over his previous three outings.
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The Twins got a glimpse of the future last week when Chicago started outfielder prospect Trayce Thompson in Wednesday’s game. The White Sox are being careful with Thompson, playing him mostly against lefthanders. He entered the weekend batting .405.
Three observations …
• The White Sox are proof that winning the offseason with splashy moves doesn’t translate to success during the regular season. They are a flawed team.
• In a 100-yard dash between the Reds’ Billy Hamilton and the Twins’ Byron Buxton, Hamilton gets off to a fast start but Buxton passes him after 30 yards.
• Houston’s Collin McHugh makes throwing a curveball look like fun.
.… and two predictions
• The Twins will go 4-5 on their current nine-game road trip.
• Despite a late charge by Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke will win the NL Cy Young award.