CLEVELAND (AP) The Cleveland Indians are expanding and extending the safety netting behind home plate at Progressive Field to better protect their fans.
The club is following recommendations outlined by Major League Baseball in December to help fans avoid being hit by foul balls and flying bats.
Safety netting at the team's downtown ballpark will now span the full length between home plate and each dugout. Also, the over-the-head canopy that previously protected seats behind home plate is being extended.
''Our fans' safety at Progressive Field has been and will continue to be a priority,'' said Jim Folk, the team's vice president of ballpark operations. ''We're pleased MLB and Commissioner Manfred continue to make safety a priority, and we'll follow their recommendations on continuing to provide a safe environment for our fans.''
Spectator safety has become a bigger concern in recent years with the rise of social media and fans being more distracted during games by smartphones and other hand-held gadgets. Recently, a video went viral of a father raising his arm at a spring training game to deflect a bat from hitting his son.
The Indians said Friday they will employ the latest netting technology to minimize fans having their game experience altered.
''We remain committed to delivering the best possible experience for our fans at Progressive Field,'' Folk said. ''We're confident these measures will help us continue to provide a safe environment for our fans while also preserving the unique sightlines and accessibility of our ballpark.''
The Indians have begun alerting season-ticket holders whose seats are affected by the netting expansion. The club is also increasing the ways in which it communicates safety to its patrons.
Cleveland opens the 2016 season at home on April 5 against Boston.