Dan Haren finally admits to back injury after latest clunker

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Dan Haren looked like his usual self through the first two months of the season, throwing 72 innings with a 3.52 ERA and 66/14 K/BB ratio.

Then the calendar flipped to June and he fell apart, allowing 29 runs in 32 innings–including nine homers–spread over six starts. The latest ugly outing came last night, as Haren surrendered seven runs while failing to make it out of the fifth inning against the Indians.

Afterward he finally admitted that the back problems that he managed to pitch through earlier this season are once again an issue and obviously have rendered him ineffective this time around:

It’s just a matter of getting a hold of it because I’m not helping the team right now going out there and pitching the way I am. I’ve tried to suck it up a little bit and do my best out there, but first and foremost is the team. Am I helping the team or hurting the team going out there? So, we’ll go from there.

Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that Haren will be examined by team doctors tomorrow and could be headed to the disabled list. That would be a first for Haren, who amazingly has never been on the DL in 10 seasons as a big leaguer and in fact has never even missed a start while topping 200 innings every year since 2005.

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.