Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times reports that New York City Council member Rafael Espinal is preparing to propose legislation that would require the Mets and Yankees to extend protective netting to 90 feet from home plate at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, respectively.
Major League Baseball issued a recommendation to teams last year that netting be extended to 70 feet from home plate and most teams complied. According to Schonbrun, one-third of teams have extended netting beyond 70 feet, including the Pirates and Phillies. The Phillies’ situation was well-publicized last year as a fan was struck by a Freddy Galvis foul ball in August. After the game, Galvis said, “It’s 2016 and fans keep getting hit by foul balls when you’re supposed to have a net to protect the fans. The fans give you the money, so you should protect them, right?” The next day, another fan was hit by a foul ball in nearly the same spot and Galvis threw his hands up in disgust.
The players seem to be very much in favor of extending protective netting.
Espinal shares the players’ point of view. He said, “I’m baffled by why this is such a big issue. You have the money to put up the netting. You would avoid the headaches of having to deal with injured fans. Your players would feel less guilty when they go up to bat. Everyone can enjoy the game in peace.”
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.