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Report: Brad Miller could move to second base in 2017

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculates that Rays’ shortstop Brad Miller could see some time at second base in 2017. The team is hurting for infield depth after trading second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers last week and reportedly favors their internal options over another free agent pickup.

While Miller has the big league experience to stick at second, the Rays also have backup options in Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin and Daniel Roberts. The club hasn’t made any significant acquisitions since they swapped Forsythe for right-hander Jose De Leon, and Topkin doesn’t see many viable free agent options left on the market.

 

The 27-year-old shortstop batted .243/.304/.482 with a career-best 30 home runs and 81 RBI for the Rays in 2016. After the team traded for the Giants’ Matt Duffy in August, Miller was shifted from his full-time role at shortstop over to first base — a disappointing change for the infielder, per MLB.com’s Bill Chastain:

Obviously, I’m a shortstop. I’ve been working hard and doing everything, and playing well there. Yesterday was kind of a punch to the gut, them telling me he was their shortstop now.

 

With Miller at second, the Rays should have an easier time filling the void at first base. The pool of available free agent candidates includes Mark Reynolds, Mike Napoli and Chris Carter, the latter of whom delivered a league-best 41 home runs with the Brewers in 2016.

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.