Don’t worry Phillies fans, help is on the way

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On the heels of being swept in a three-game series by the Mets to fall to 14-18 on the season, the last-place Phillies are conducting a mini roster shakeup.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies will promote left-handers Jake Diekman and Raul Valdes and infielder Hector Luna before tomorrow’s game against the Padres.

No word yet on the corresponding moves, but Joe Savery has already been optioned to Triple-A and Laynce Nix could be headed to the disabled list with a calf strain. The Phillies will need to clear space on the 40-man roster for both Valdes and Luna.

Diekman, 25, has an 0.59 ERA and 22/3 K/BB ratio over 15 1/3 innings with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season while the 34-year-old Valdes has a solid 3.86 ERA and 26/1 K/BB ratio over 21 innings. They’ll be added to a bullpen which has a major league worst 5.59 ERA. Luna, who has previously appeared in the majors with the majors with the Marlins, Blue Jays, Indians and Cardinals, will serve in a utility infielder role.

The Phillies might not be done there, though. Salisbury reports that infielder Mike Fontenot “could also be on his way in the coming days.” Fontenot, who signed a minor league deal with the club last month, is hitting .319/.373/.447 with six doubles and an .819 OPS over 52 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. He would presumably share playing time at second base with rookie Freddy Galvis, who has looked quite capable defensively, but is hitting just .213 with a .578 OPS across 99 plate appearances.

White Sox to extend protective netting to the foul poles

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Recently two more fans suffered serious injuries as the result of hard-hit foul balls at major league games. One of those fans was hurt at a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field earlier this month. In response, the White Sox have taken it upon themselves to do that which Major League Baseball will not require and extend protective netting. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The White Sox and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority are planning to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles, according to a source.

Exact details will be announced later, but the changes will be made as soon as possible this season.

If recent history holds, they will not be the last team to do it.

Major League Baseball has taken a laissez-faire approach to protective netting over the past several years, requiring nothing even if it has made recommendations to teams to do something. The last time it made a suggestion was in December 2015 when teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts and within 70 feet of home plate. In the wake of that recommendation only a few teams immediately extended their netting, primarily because if you ask a business to do something but say it is not required to do anything, it is not likely to do anything.

It would not be until September 2017, after a baby girl was severely injured at Yankee Stadium, that the rest of baseball was inspired to extend protective netting in keeping with MLB’s recommendations. Indeed, it was a land rush, with all 30 teams extending their netting by Opening Day 2018. While a generous interpretation would have everyone seeing the light simultaneously, my slightly more experienced eye saw it as a “don’t be the only team not to have extended netting by the time the next lawsuit hits” approach.

In the wake of the two recent injuries Major League Baseball issued a statement about how it “will keep examining” the matter of additional protective netting while, again, mandating nothing. Now that the White Sox are extending netting to the foul poles, however,  it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which other teams follow suit. Sooner or later, enough will likely have done so to create critical mass and make any team which has not done so to make the effort out of self-preservation.

Or, more generously, good sense.