SEATTLE – Baseball Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he does not expect teams to make changes to the protective net around the stadiums during the season, although he expects talks will continue on whether the network should be extended.
Manfred's comments on Tuesday came less than a week after a young boy was hit by a foul ball and hospitalized in Houston. Manfred said the structural problems at each individual stadium would make the mandatory changes during the season difficult, but the Minute Maid Park incident will trigger talks during the offseason.
The Cubs outfielder, Albert Almora Jr., hit a line drive in the fourth inning of Wednesday's game and the field level stops at the third base line, where he hit a young girl. Manfred said the communication with the girl's family has been made primarily by the Astros, who then updated the commissioner.
"Look, I think it's important that we keep focusing on the safety of the fans," said Manfred. "If that means that the network should go beyond the dugouts, so be it, each stadium is different, the reason why I hesitate with 'beyond the dugout', I mean, many clubs are already Beyond the dugout But there is a balance here We have fans who talk about the fact that they do not want to sit behind the networks I think we have reached the balance in favor of the fan's security so far, and I think we will continue to do advancing. "
Following the recommendations of MLB, for the start of the 2018 season, the 30 teams had expanded their protection network at least to the dugout ends after several fans were injured with foul balls in 2017. The latest injury has caused a renewed debate on whether the protections should go down the foul lines.
"It's very difficult, given how far clubs have gone with the network to make changes during the year, because they really are structural problems," said Manfred. "But since security is so important, I'm sure the conversation will begin and continue during the off-season."
Manfred was in Seattle as part of a business trip on the West Coast and met with the owner of the Mariners, John Stanton, who took over as chairman of the competition committee and owner meetings will be held in a few weeks in New York .
Among the other issues that Manfred addressed:
• Manfred said he has kept up with attempts to develop the stadium about 175 miles south in Portland, Oregon, but reiterated that any consideration for the expansion will not occur until stadium situations are resolved for the stadium. Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays. Manfred seemed optimistic about the progress in Oakland, and described Tampa Bay's progress as being behind Oakland's development process.
• Manfred expects that changes to the rules will be addressed in the upcoming negotiations for collective bargaining agreements that will intensify next year. The current CBA expires after the 2021 season.
"I think given the way the players' association has reacted to several rule changes that have been introduced and given that in a year we will be in the last year of an agreement and we will have talks, I think those changes in the rules are part of a larger negotiation, "he said.
• Manfred described Seattle as part of the consideration of a future All-Star game, assuming the Mariners submit an offer. The last time Seattle hosted the game was in 2001 and I would like it again, but Manfred said the team has not submitted an offer for future openings. The All-Star Game is scheduled for 2021, with the 2026 game already scheduled for Philadelphia.
"Let me choose a random number, but once you are in the category of more than 18 years since you had a game, when the club shows up to make an offer, it will be in the category that receives active consideration." he said. "Obviously, we do not like it [go to] markets too close together because we have 30 that we are trying to serve. But as I said, once 18 years have passed, it's time for that consideration to be active. "