Sunday’s series finale between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies came to a sudden halt on Sunday afternoon when a Cody Bellinger line drive went into the first few rows of the field-level section just off first base.
As players stopped and looked into stands, Dodger Stadium ushers and medical personnel rushed to the fan’s aid. The young woman was treated in her seat and held an ice pack to her head for several minutes.
The game resumed and she was later escorted up to the concourse and transported to a local hospital for precautionary tests. The incident immediately sparked more conversations of the need to extend protective nettings across Major League ballparks.
Although details are not finalized, Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said the club will take action at Dodger Stadium, potentially as early as this season, according to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“We have been talking for some time with different providers and looking at different options,” Kasten said Monday. “Surely we will be expanding netting. I don’t know yet the final configuration. Obviously there are some different choices to be made and different products which each come with their own set of challenges.”
“I can’t say that for sure although I think it’s likely,” Kasten said. “For sure, something is going to be done. As for the exact timing, I don’t know that yet.”
While admitting there are difficulties in finding a solution, Kasten is mindful of the need to find a solution:
“There are challenges,” he said. “But the challenges are trivial to the importance of what we’re doing.”
The Dodgers extended protective netting to the ends of each dugout at Dodger Stadium prior to the 2018 season. L.A. has additionally taken action at Camelback Ranch.
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 teams that recently committed to extending protective nettings at their respective home stadiums.
Bellinger was understandably shaken up after watching his line drive inflict injury. “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,” he said.
“Doc came over and we had a talk, just tried to regroup. I’m sure it was tough for everyone.”
Bellinger supported a potential change that would better protect fans 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.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts added: “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.”