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White Sox to extend protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field

The Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority are planning to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles.

By Daryl Van Schouwen Jun 18, 2019

The White Sox on Tuesday announced plans to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles as soon as possible.

As first reported by the Sun-Times, the Sox said specific details will be announced later but indicated the changes will be made this summer. The Sox will be the first of the 30 major-league teams to extend the netting to the corners of the outfield.

To protect fans from foul balls, every team extended the netting to the end of each dugout before the 2018 season. Going beyond that, however, was left up to each franchise. The Tigers have extended the netting about halfway between the dugouts and foul poles at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Calls for more fan safety increased after a 4-year-old girl was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora on May 29 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. A woman was bloodied and taken to a hospital after being hit by a foul ball off the bat of Sox rookie Eloy Jimenez on June 10 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

‘‘It keeps people safe; it’s a smart move,’’ Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito said. ‘‘I hate seeing young kids get hit and having to go to the hospital.’’

Players have been calling for more netting for years.

‘‘In today’s day and age, you have a lot of young fans, and guys are hitting the ball harder,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘I see counterarguments like, ‘Don’t sit there,’ or, ‘Just pay attention to the game.’

‘‘Dude, no matter how much you’re paying attention to the game, if that thing’s coming in 115 miles an hour with tail, no matter if you have a glove this big, it could hit you right in the forehead.’’

Said Jimenez: ‘‘When I hit the woman, I was . . . super-sad because I knew I hit it hard and it was straight in the face. That doesn’t feel good. That’s why [extending the netting is] going to be good.’’

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