Spring training games aren’t loaded with the weight and thrill of the regular season, at least not when it comes to stacking wins and building a case for contention in the playoffs. Still, there’s nothing to say we can’t enjoy the 13-run wins, foul ball mishaps and mammoth home runs from some of baseball’s greatest players.
Take National League MVP Kris Bryant, for instance, who catapulted a grand slam off of right-hander Brock Stewart during Saturday’s 9-3 win over the Dodgers:
The Cubs were up 3-2 in the fourth inning when Bryant struck, padding the lead behind starter Kyle Hendricks in the team’s bid for their second Cactus League win of the spring. It was his first home run of 2017, albeit not one that will count towards his total when he attempts to repeat his success as MVP and World Series champion later this year.
Bryant slashed .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs (only one of them a grand slam) and 102 RBI in 2016, leading his team — and the rest of the National League — with a career-best 8.4 fWAR. He’s 2-for-12 in Cactus League play through five games.
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.