SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Major League Baseball plans to re-evaluate fan safety at stadiums following the serious injury to a woman at Fenway Park last week.
Speaking before the amateur draft at MLB Network studios Monday night, Commissioner Rob Manfred said the sport must “react strongly” to Friday night’s accident in Boston. Tonya Carpenter, 44, suffered what police initially said were life-threatening injuries when she was hit in the head by a broken bat during a game between the Red Sox and Oakland Athletics.
Her family issued a statement Monday saying Carpenter is responsive, and her condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has been upgraded from serious to fair.
“When you have an issue like this, an incident like this, you have to go back and re-evaluate where you are on all of your safety issues and trust me, we will do that. Just like we are on a variety of issues right now at the beginning of my tenure,” Manfred said.
Carpenter was sitting in one of the first few rows between home plate and the third base dugout, an area where fans are not protected by netting, when she was struck by a shattered bat that snapped as Oakland’s Brett Lawrie hit a grounder.
Manfred, in his first year as commissioner, was asked if MLB will consider requiring clubs to extend the protective netting beyond the area directly behind home plate.
“There’s a variety of issues that we’re going to take a fresh look at,” he said. “You have to react strongly to an incident like this, but I think the best word for it is that we’re going to re-evaluate where we are on the topic.”
Concerned about a rash of flying broken bats and the danger they posed, Major League Baseball studied the issue in 2008 and implemented a series of changes to bat regulations for the following season.
Multi-piece bat failures are down about 50 percent since the beginning of the 2009 season, MLB said.
“I think it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that we have taken important steps in this area,” Manfred said. “Bat safety is much improved from where it was a few years ago. We’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money to make sure that our bats are safer and we have less of these incidents.”
Any potential adjustments could involve input from the players’ association as well.
“Some of the changes would affect play on the field. The MLBPA might be involved in those discussions,” Manfred said. “And then obviously us and the clubs. I mean, this is an important local issue, and as with all topics we want to make sure we know where our clubs are on a topic.”
The National Hockey League ordered safety netting installed at each end of NHL arenas after 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil was killed by a deflected puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets game in 2002. She died two days later, and her parents eventually settled with the team for $1.2 million, the league and the arena management.
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