NASHVILLE — The Rays will expand netting to cover all field-level seating areas between the home plate sides of the dugouts to comply with Major League Baseball's new fan safety-driven recommendation.
Operations/facilities vice president Rick Nafe said they are currently looking at the logistics of covering the two exposed sections similarly to the 60-foot high product and cabling in place.
"So it looks to us like it's a pretty simplistic response in answer to Major League Baseball's request," he said from the Trop.
MLB made the recommendation, though not a mandate, in response to several recent incidents of fans being hit by balls and bats, and it also asked teams to increasingly educate fans to the risks. The tradeoff for some fans is the loss of intimacy to the field and potentially access to players, and MLB wants teams to make it clear to ticket-buyers before purchase if they will be behind the netting or not.
Nafe said he thinks the recommendation is a good one. "I don't think we're taking anything away from the fans that are there," he said.
Nafe said the team's spring facility in Port Charlotte is already in compliance as MLB's recommendation is for coverage within 70 feet of home plate. All minor-league teams also have been encouraged to comply.