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MLB looks to improve fan safety; changes not expected before season ends

Jim Rogash / Getty

After watching a fan get carried out of Comerica Park on a stretcher last week, victimized by a foul ball to the head, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander implored the league to explore ways to make stadiums safer for fans.

Verlander's message didn't fall on deaf ears, it turns out.

In the wake of several ugly incidents in which fans have been struck by broken bats or foul balls this season, Major League Baseball has begun examining ways to increase fan safety at its 30 stadiums, spokesman Pat Courtney told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. No policy changes are expected before the 2015 campaign wraps up, however.

“We are actively studying and evaluating a number of issues related to fan safety, including bat safety, netting, etc., at the league level,” Courtney said.

Some teams, though, are being proactive in their efforts to make their stadiums safer for spectators. The Philadelphia Phillies reportedly intend to extend the protective netting at Citizens Bank Park to more thoroughly shield fans sitting in areas prone to foul balls, but will wait for the go-ahead from the league office before proceeding with installation.

The aforementioned incident in Detroit, though, wasn't necessarily what prompted the league to increase its efforts to improve fan safety. Earlier this season, a fan suffered life-threatening injuries during a game at Fenway Park after being hit in the head by a broken bat.

“If today doesn't get nets up, what else is it going to take?” Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos told reporters. “I mean, look what happened in Boston to the lady that got hit with, I think, (Brett) Lawrie's broken bat. What else has to happen for nets to go up?”

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