Report: MLB “in discussions” about opening 2014 season in Australia

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Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times report that MLB “is in discussions about the possibility of starting its 2014 season in Australia” and Australian promoters are pushing for the Dodgers to be one of the teams.

MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney denied the report, saying: “We are not currently exploring the possibility with the Dodgers or any other team to play in Australia.” And even the report acknowledges that “it appears the negotiations haven’t advanced to the point where specific teams are being included in the talks.”

However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald the Dodgers are being targeted because of Magic Johnson’s involvement and there’s already a report claiming that the Diamondbacks would be their “likely opponents” for a three-game series at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Without commenting specifically on the possibility of playing in Australia Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall issued a statement saying that “if the possibility existed for the D-Backs to play overseas, we would most certainly be interested.”

Time zones and travel would obviously be obstacles, but MLB has regularly played season-opening series in Japan and sending two teams to Australia would seemingly be similar.

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.