Several Chicago Cubs players called for more protective netting around the baseball field after a child was struck and taken to a hospital Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
The game between the Cubs and the Houston Astros was halted in the fourth inning after the ball off the bat of Cubs hitter Albert Almora Jr. struck a young girl. The child was taken to the hospital, but no further information was released about her condition.
Almora was clearly distraught after the incident. He was seen being comforted by Cubs teammate Jason Heyward and a security guard after the girl was struck.
Cubs star Kris Bryant told ESPN after the game that baseball needs to add more protection around the field.
“Any safety measure we can take to make sure fans are safe, we should do it,” Bryant said, adding that he wanted to have “fences up around the whole field.”
“I mean, you could see through these fences. There's a lot of kids coming to the game, young kids want to watch us play. The ball is coming hard, with speed of the game, (protection) is needed,” he said.
Bryant added the look on Almora’s face after the girl was struck was “so sad.”
“I mean. I don't know what you can do. Let's just put fences up around the whole field. It's so sad when you see stuff like that happen. Albert has two young kids himself. He's certainly taking it really hard. We're here supporting him, to support the family and whatever they need,” he said.
Almora told reporters after the game he agreed fencing is needed around the field.
“I want to put a net around the whole stadium,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Heyward and Kyle Schwarber also supported the idea of putting more protective fencing in ballparks, ESPN reported.
Major League Baseball released a statement Thursday on the incident, according to USA Today.
“The events at last night’s game were extremely upsetting,” the league said. “We send our best wishes to the child and family involved. Clubs have significantly expanded netting and their inventory of protected seats in recent years. With last night’s event in mind, we will continue our efforts on this important issue.”
All teams expanded their protective netting in ballparks to the ends of the dugouts last year.