Days after the Orioles announced they'd be expanding netting at both Camden Yards and Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette lauded the decision while insisting the ballpark experience won't change much for fans.
During their question-and-answer session with season plan holders, the pair was asked whether it would impact fans getting souvenirs or autographs from players before games.
"If you've seen some of the injuries I've seen in the stands from foul balls and stuff, I'm so glad we're putting up that netting," Showalter said. "If I've got a choice of maybe being able to see a little less and protecting my wife, my husband, my child, that's easy. If it's autographs, our guys are good about it. We'll continue to try and make it fan friendly. But there's nothing more fan friendly we can do than protect the fans."
Showalter said that players know their responsibilities to the fans, but being in the dugout when a ball goes into the stands and causes an injury and seeing the players' reactions, he came down clearly on the side of player safety.
Duquette, too, praised the decision.
"The netting was extended for the comfort of the fans to be able to watch the game," Duquette said.
Plans went into motion late last season for netting to be added to Camden Yards, after a toddler was injured by a batted ball at Yankee Stadium. Several teams have announced their netting expansions in recent weeks.
The netting at Camden Yards will extend from Section 16 to Section 58, essentially all around the infield, in an effort to protect as many fans as possible.
The team will announce further details on the type of netting and the cost at a later date.
Around the horn
Showalter said infielder Ryan Mountcastle, the 20-year-old former first-round draft pick who ended last season at Double-A Bowie, will be invited to major league camp. Other nonroster prospects include outfielders DJ Stewart and Cedric Mullins. … Right-hander Miguel Castro said he had recovered well from two weeks of flu-like symptoms that caused him to lose weight ahead of minicamp. … Center fielder Adam Jones said he understands the league's pace of play initiatives, but stressed that you "can't rush an artist."