Will Middlebrooks pulled from game with hamstring tightness

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From Tim Britton of the Providence Journal comes word that Red Sox rookie Will Middlebrooks had to be lifted from Tuesday’s game against the Royals after experiencing left hamstring tightness while running the bases in the second inning.

Middlebrooks finished the evening 1-for-1 with a double and is now batting .409 with a 1.435 OPS and seven extra-base hits in 22 at-bats this year. Nick Punto replaced him at third base and seems likely to draw the start there in Wednesday’s series finale.

Kevin Youkilis (back) recently began a walking program and is about two weeks from making his return. The Red Sox have discussed the idea of shifting Middlebrooks to the outfield when that happens.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.