Miguel Montero
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Miguel Montero is “pretty much retired”

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Former Nationals catcher Miguel Montero has all but closed the book on his major-league career, according to comments given to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Montero said Saturday that he’s “pretty much retired,” in what feels like an inevitable decision after he was cut loose by Washington in mid-April 2018.

Montero, 35, was limited to just four games in 2018. He signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in February and broke camp with the big league squad, but went hitless in his first 13 plate appearances and eked out just two walks before getting designated for assignment. The rest of his 13 years in the majors tells a different story: the veteran catcher played nearly a full decade for the Diamondbacks, during which he turned in two All-Star performances, made two postseason runs in 2007 and 2011, logged the most games caught by any franchise backstop to date, and shaped the bulk of his lifetime .256/.340/.411 batting line, 126 home runs, and 15.5 fWAR. He also earned MVP consideration for his career-best season in 2012, batting a hefty .286/.391/.438 with 15 home runs, an .829 OPS, and 4.5 fWAR across 573 PA.

While the twilight years of Montero’s career yielded disappointing results, he contributed to two more playoff runs with the Cubs in 2015 and 2016 and finally earned his first and only championship ring. There’s no one knocking on his door now, however, and Piecoro adds that the former catcher already has a viable plan in place for the remainder of his professional career. Together with his brother-in-law, Carlos Murcia, Montero currently heads ZT Sports, the Scottsdale-based sports management agency that represents Giants outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and over a dozen minor league players and prospects. It’s a decision Montero can trace back to his time in Arizona, as he told Piecoro he played a pivotal role in negotiating the five-year, $60 million extension he netted in 2012 and was similarly inspired to advocate for others in the game.

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.