Evan Gattis returns to New York under better circumstances

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The Braves are in Queens, New York tonight to open up a three-game series against the Mets. Catcher Evan Gattis isn’t starting, but figures to be used as a pinch-hitter late in the game if the Braves are in need of some offense, as the 26-year-old came up with two big home runs recently: on Saturday, Gattis broke an eighth-inning 0-0 tie with a two-run home run off of Kenley Jansen; on Tuesday, he tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run off of Glen Perkins; and on Wednesday, he boosted the Braves’ lead to 8-0 with a fourth inning grand slam off of Vance Worley.

It wasn’t always easy. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports, the last time Gattis was in New York, he was out of baseball and begging for food and money.

When Gattis attempted to get money from an ATM machine to buy a hot dog on the fourth day of that five-day trip, he learned he was penniless. His account showed a negative $17, and he was not scheduled to fly back home out of John F. Kennedy International Airport until the next night.

“I was like, ‘What am I going to do?'” Gattis said. “I just lost it. I was so beaten. I was bawling, crying. I was trying to sell clothes. I was like, ‘You want a bag of clothes so I can get on a train to get to JFK?'”

Things have turned around for Gattis, who spent this afternoon at MLB’s Fan Cave in New York dressed up as a polar bear for some reason.

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.