The Phillies signed right-hander Carlos Zambrano to a Minor League deal on May 15, setting July 1 as an opt-out date. Zambrano worked himself back into game shape, then started at Single-A Clearwater, then Double-A Reading, and most recently with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Entering tonight’s start, his last in the Phillies’ Minor League system at least, he had posted a 1.89 ERA in 31.1 innings. Despite the nice ERA, reports have been less than enthusiastic, citing a sub-90 MPH fastball and baffling inefficiency. As time went on, it became more and more clear that Zambrano wasn’t going to earn that coveted promotion to the Majors.
Tonight, his fate has been sealed. He left his start against the Durham Bulls after only two innings with an apparent arm injury. The Phillies will seek to bolster their flimsy starting rotation elsewhere (if they even do at all) while the 32-year-old Zambrano will seek a path to the Major Leagues elsewhere.
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.