Nationals sign Nate McLouth

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Nate McLouth won’t have to move far, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the former Orioles outfielder has agreed to a two-year deal with the Nationals.

There’s no starting job for McLouth in Washington, where Bryce Harper, Denard Span, and Jayson Werth all figure to play almost every day, but Rosenthal says he’s “expected to get significant at-bats” in a fourth outfielder role.

How that will happen is unclear, especially since the most likely outfielder to take a seat on the bench is Span when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound and McLouth is also a left-handed hitter. It’s the same role David DeJesus seemed destined to fill when the Nationals claimed him off waivers in August, but then they quickly shipped him to the Rays.

McLouth turned his career around with the Orioles, going from nearly out of baseball to hitting .261 with a .742 OPS and 42 steals in 201 games.

UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun says the deal is worth $10.75 million, which is big money for a backup outfielder who doesn’t actually play center field well.

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.