Report: MLB players wanted expanded netting in parks during CBA talks

Sunday June 7th, 2015

Major League Baseball players wanted to extended the protective netting in stadiums during each of the last two rounds of collective bargaining, but were rejected by owners, reports Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal.

The report comes two days after a fan at Friday’s Red Sox-Athletics game at Fenway Park in Boston was struck by shards of a shattered bat. A Boston Police Department spokeswoman said the fan, Tonya Carpenter, sustained serious injuries but was “expected to survive.”

According to Rosenthal, major-league sources indicated the players proposed for the 2007 and 2012 labor agreements that protective netting at parks extend down the foul lines and as far as the foul poles. Owners reportedly rejected the proposals over concerns of additional netting detracting from the fan experience.

"Some owners are afraid to upset the fans that pay some of the highest ticket prices, when in reality, it's an effort to protect those very fans," said Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler, a member of the negotiating committee for the players' union.

"(The owners) seem afraid that fans will lose access to the players - autographs, getting baseballs, etc. -- and that will cause those ticket holders to be unhappy. Or, that they'd have to watch the game through a net. (But) fans behind home plate pay the highest prices, have the same issues, and yet those seats are always full."

Protective netting is currently required behind home plate. Some teams extend protective screens along foul lines for batting practice, but not during games.

Carpenter was seated beyond the netting, between home plate and the third-base dugout at Fenway Park. The game was halted as medical responders placed her on a stretcher and carted her off the field through the path along the field’s foul territory. Her screams were audible to fans in the stadium on the team radio broadcast, the Boston Globe reported.

A MLB spokesman told Rosenthal on Saturday that commissioner Rob Manfred “likely will revisit the question of whether teams should install additional netting.”

Mike Fiammetta

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