Major League Baseball recommended teams have protective netting between the dugouts for any field-level seats within 70 feet of home plate.
The guidelines were announced Wednesday at the winter meetings following a season in which several fans were injured by foul balls, prompting MLB to study fan safety. Most teams are expected to expand their use of netting.
"It is important that fans have the option to sit behind protective netting or in other areas of the ballpark where foul balls and bats are less likely to enter," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "This recommendation attempts to balance the need for an adequate number of seating options with our desire to preserve the interactive pregame and in-game fan experience that often centers around the dugouts, where fans can catch foul balls, see their favorite players up close and, if they are lucky, catch a tossed ball or other souvenir. "
The recommendation also applies to spring training ballparks, many of them owned by municipalities.
Mets get second baseman Walker from Pirates
The Mets acquired second baseman Neil Walker from the Pirates for lefthander Jonathon Niese. The 30-year-old Walker can become a free agent after this season. A Silver Slugger winner in 2014, Walker batted .269 with 16 homers and 71 RBI last season. Niese, 29, was 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA last season.
… The Mariners acquired first baseman Adam Lind from the Brewers for three minor league pitchers. The 32-year-old Lind batted .277 with 20 homers and 87 RBI in 149 games.
… Second baseman Chase Utley and the Dodgers finalized a one-year contract. The 36-year-old hit .202 with three homers and nine RBI in 34 games with the Dodgers. He has a .281 career batting average with 236 homers and 925 RBI.
… The Tigers acquired lefty Justin Wilson from the Yankees in exchange for pitching prospects Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Wilson, 28, posted a 3.10 ERA in 74 games for the Yankees last season. He struck out 66 batters in 61 innings with a 1.13 WHIP.
… Righthander David Hernandez agreed to a $3.9 million, one-year contract with the Phillies. The 30-year-old was 1-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 40 relief appearances for Arizona last year.
… The Athletics traded third baseman Brett Lawrie to the White Sox for righthander J.B. Wendelken and minor league lefthander Zack Erwin.
Bowl system under scrutiny
Three teams with losing records will be among the 80 playing in a record 40 bowl games over the next month and two teams from the same conference will play each other in a bowl. This offseason, a task force will study the bowl system, intent on making changes to prevent that from happening again.
"The members are going to have to figure out, what's the purpose of bowl games?" NCAA President Mark Emmert said. "Is it a reward for a successful season or is it just another game that we're going to provide an opportunity for?"
Clemson's Swinney named coach of year
Clemson's Dabo Swinney is the Home Depot Coach of the Year, and Hunter Henry of Arkansas is the John Mackey Award winner for the nation's outstanding tight end.
around the horn
Boxing: The IBF stripped British boxer Tyson Fury of its world heavyweight belt because he was breaking rules by meeting Wladimir Klitschko in a rematch in his next fight. Fury was supposed to meet the IBF's No. 1 contender, Vyacheslav Glazkov, in a mandatory defense.
WNBA: Liberty guard Epiphanny Prince had surgery to repair a torn ACL in her right knee. Prince suffered the injury while playing in Russia for her club team Dynamo Kursk on Nov. 11. Prince, who also had two right lateral meniscus tears repaired on Wednesday, is expected to be sidelined at least six months.