In the finale of their last homestand, Cody Bellinger and the Los Angeles Dodgers saw play come to a halt after a line drive went into foul territory off first base and struck a fan in the head.
After lining out to end the first inning, the 23-year-old went over to check on the fan in the stands, who initially appeared to have dodged a serious injury. While she intended on remaining in her seat, the fan was escorted out of Dodger Stadium on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital for precautionary testing.
“It was weird,” Bellinger said. “It was the first time I think I’ve actually hit a fan. I’m sure I’ve hit a fan but I saw it actually hit her face, so it was tough. Doc came over and we had a talk, just tried to regroup. I’m sure it was tough for everyone.”
There has been an unfortunate uptick in fans being struck with foul balls at MLB games over recent seasons, raising the discussion for further extended protective nettings at all 30 ballparks.
Bellinger revealed that he would be on board with the potential installation of further protective netting at Dodger Stadium. “I would assume that would be a smart decision,” he said.
“Just to protect those people in the front row who don’t have enough reaction time. I mean, I’m over at first base and have to be ready. They’re 10 feet over from me. Yeah, maybe, just to protect the people in the first few rows. That’s a scary situation.
“I think we’ve seen it on TV a few times, we’ve had our conversations. I went over the next half inning just to make sure and she said she’s alright and gave me a thumbs up. Obviously that’s a scary situation. They’re close to the playing field at that point.”
Dave Roberts offered his best wishes to the fan that was struck and revealed that he tried comfort Bellinger, who was noticeably upset about what had occurred in the stands. “You feel for that person,” Roberts said.
“Cody, obviously you see a direct hit, he had a good look at it and it’s coming off hot. I just wanted to go out there and settle him down a little bit, try to get him refocused. You never want anything like that to happen.”
Like Bellinger, Roberts is open to Dodger Stadium expanding its protecting netting around. “I think talks like that definitely need to intensify,” he said. “For me, as we talk about getting ahead of things, I don’t see anything wrong with that idea.”
Since the comments by Bellinger and Roberts, the Dodgers announced plans to extend the netting at Dodger Stadium. The club did yet not provide specifics but said further details would be made available at a later date.
Prior to the start of the 2018 season, the Dodgers extended the protective netting to the ends of each dugout. It was at the request of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who urged all 30 teams to do so following a young girl being struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium in 2017.
Each club complied, with some taking further action in order to drastically reduce the probability of future incidents occurring. The Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals are among a handful of teams that recently vowed to continue extending protective nettings at their respective home ballparks.