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Stephen Strasburg is scaling back his pitching repertoire in 2017

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Stephen Strasburg plans to utilize his slider/cutter less in 2017, according to a report by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The right-hander was sidelined in August and September with a strained flexor mass in his right arm and believes his chronic elbow issues stemmed from an increased usage of the pitch during the 2016 season.

Strasburg debuted his slider back in 2014, but didn’t start incorporating it into his regular routine until 2016. Brooks Baseball estimates suggest that the slider accounted for 17.16% of the 28-year-old’s pitches, ousting his changeup as the second-most common pitch in his repertoire. Whether his decision will bring his curveball and sinker usage back up from their all-time low totals in 2016 or whether he’ll simply lean a little harder on his change remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure, though: Strasburg doesn’t want to eliminate his newfound pitch entirely, as he credits it with his ability to get more outs early in counts (via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post).

It’s a proactive move for the right-hander, who appears to have returned to full health after multiple stints on the disabled list. He’ll resume his throwing program in January and, barring any unusual setbacks, should be good to go by spring.

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.