Yankees expanding protective netting past dugouts

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NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Yankees are expanding netting to protect seats behind each dugout and for five sections past down both foul lines, a decision announced after several fans were injured last year.

A boy was struck on the head by a portion of Chris Carter's broken bat at Yankee Stadium on May 25, and a fan sitting beyond the first-base dugout was hit by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Aaron Judge on July 25. A young girl was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier on Sept. 20 and was taken to a hospital.

Team officials said Wednesday that green netting, designed to minimize visual impact, will rise 9 feet above each dugout, but the bottom 3 feet will be retractable and pulled up during batting practice to allow fan interaction with players.

Beyond the dugouts, nets will rise to about 5½ feet above the wall, which is 8 feet above the field surface. The Yankees said the system, called Dyneema fiber Ultra Cross 1.2 millimeter-wide knotless netting, will be in front of seats until the stands are parallel to the foul lines.

New York had said during its regular-season finale that it planned extended netting but did not release details. The Yankees will install a similar netting system at Steinbrenner Field, its spring training ballpark in Tampa, Florida.

Major League Baseball issued recommendations for protecting netting or screens in December 2015, encouraging teams to have it in place between the ends of the dugouts closest to home plate.

Atlanta, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, the New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Texas and Washington had netting that extended to the outfield ends of the dugouts by last September.

Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, San Diego and Seattle are among the teams that have said they intend to have expanded netting this year.

"The Yankees and Mets have stepped up to the plate and taken an important action to protect their fans," New York City Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr., who last year introduced legislation that would require expanded netting, said in a statement. "So many families will be kept safe because of this; I hope all teams nationwide will make the right call."

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