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Another child injured by foul ball

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It seems like this happens every week: a young child was struck and injured by a line drive foul ball in yesterday’s game between the Royals and Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

The child, who is three-years-old, was struck by a hard foul ball off the bat of Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. The child was transported to a local hospital. The Indians are not authorized to release any information about the child, but Lindor said after the game he was told that the child was in stable condition.

The protective netting at Progressive Field runs to the end of each dugout. Lindor’s line drive landed several sections beyond the netting and was about 12 to 15 rows into the stands. Lindor said after the game that he thinks that all teams should extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole:

“I encourage every MLB team to put the nets all the way down. I know it’s all about the fans’ experience of interacting with players and I completely get that. You want to have that interaction with the fans, getting autographs and stuff, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure everybody comes out of this game healthy, and we got to do something about it. Everybody feels bad. And if we can put the nets a little bit further down, I think it would be a lot better.”

The Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals have either extended protective netting or recently announced plans to do so. In both Chicago and Kansas City this was done in direct response to a child getting injured. This reactive, rather than proactive, response is similar to all 30 teams extending netting to the end of dugouts only after a child was seriously injured at a Yankees game at the end of the 2017 season. This despite the fact that Major League Baseball recommended, but did not mandate, extended netting nearly two years earlier, in December 2015.

Why teams have consistently refused to extend netting unless or until children get injured is an interesting question. It’s one that, if I was an attorney for the family of an injured child, I’d be asking team and league officials — officials who have spent the past several years using ever-increasing exit velocities of balls off bats as a marketing tool and who have acknowledged that the ball has experienced changes recently which has caused it to fly farther, faster — in a formal setting.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.