Evan Longoria ready to ramp up rehab from hamstring injury

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Rays manager Joe Maddon offered some cryptic comments earlier this week regarding Evan Longoria’s recovery from a partially torn left hamstring, but he is moving in the right direction.

According to Bill Chastain, Adam Berry and Greg Zeck of MLB.com, Longoria said yesterday that he’s ready to ramp up his rehab process. The 26-year-old third baseman was pulled from a minor league rehab assignment last week after feeling discomfort in the hamstring, but he told reporters that he’s confident he’s “not back to square one.”

“We’re finally moving back forward again,” Longoria said. “It wasn’t like I thought — it wasn’t anything major. … I’ve already missed enough time as it is, and I don’t want my season to be over at this point by doing something stupid. That was the decision; it was my decision.”

Longoria has been sidelined with the injury since the end of April. He’ll still need to make it through batting, fielding and running drills without incident before being cleared to begin another rehab assignment, but it sounds like his return might not be too far off after all.

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.