BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Major League Baseball on Thursday announced that protective netting at all 30 ballparks will be extended to at least the end of both dugouts by Opening Day, part of a comprehensive effort to improve and ensure the safety of its fans.
The announcement came on the heels of a recent wave of teams taking similar independent measures to improve safety at their ballparks. Eleven clubs already had announced plans this month to extend netting in time for Opening Day, joining a group of 10 that previously had done so.
"It's an important change for us," Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday at the Owners Meetings. "The safety and security of our fans in the ballpark is obviously really, really important to us."
The issue came to prominence a year ago, after a fan was struck with a batted ball at Yankee Stadium.
At the time, Manfred noted that he would allow each club to assess its own logistical challenges toward adding protective netting. Within one offseason, all 30 clubs were able to do so.
"It's a process victory for baseball in the sense that we, collectively -- me along with the owners -- decided that the best way to proceed here was to allow the clubs to get to the right place on their own, without the necessity of creating a rule that could have been troublesome depending on how ballparks were designed.
"Honestly, all 30 of the clubs got to the right place. That's a really good outcome from our perspective."
The news was released Thursday morning in a Major League Baseball statement in which Manfred spoke to the need for more seats in protected areas of the ballpark.
"Providing baseball fans with a variety of seating options when they come to the ballpark, including seats behind protective netting, is important," Manfred said in the statement. "Major League clubs are constantly evaluating the coverage and design of their ballpark netting, and I am pleased that they are providing fans an increased inventory of protected seats."