Red Sox to designate Marlon Byrd for assignment

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Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that the Red Sox will designate outfielder Marlon Byrd for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will make his first major league start since Tommy John surgery this afternoon against the Nationals. Byrd was informed of the decision following last night’s game.

Byrd was acquired from the Cubs for Michael Bowden and Hunter Cervenka after Jacoby Ellsbury went down with a subluxed right shoulder in April. The 34-year-old began his Red Sox tenure with a six-game hitting streak, but his production tailed off from there and his playing time has suffered recently due to the emergence of Daniel Nava and Scott Podsednik and the return of Darnell McDonald.

Byrd batted .270/.286/.320 with one homer, two doubles and a .606 OPS over 105 plate appearances with Boston and is hitting just .210/.243/.245 overall this season. The Cubs are still on the hook for all but $400,000 of his $6.5 million salary for 2012.

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.