Safety for fans comes to forefront

A scary incident in which a foul ball off the bat of the Twins' Denard Span hit his mother, Wednesday at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, prompted Span to renew his call to extend the netting that protects fans from hard-hit foul balls.

"It's just a bad situation," said Span, a former Tampa Catholic standout. "It's just surprising that no one has gotten seriously hurt to this point. I definitely do think that they should have nets going further, you know, as far as the dugout."

Wanda Wilson, Span's mother and a Tampa resident, wasn't badly hurt.

The odds that a ball off Span's bat would hit his mother are slim. Maybe surprisingly, so are the odds that any fan could be seriously injured.

Winthrop professors Robert Gorman and David Weeks have documented 52 deaths from foul balls hit into the stands — from Little League to the majors — in the United States, continuing the research from their book Death At the Ballpark.

"It's amazing to me that there aren't more, to be honest," Gorman said Thursday.

In 1970, a foul ball off the bat of the Dodgers' Manny Mota killed a 14-year-old boy in Los Angeles. That was the only death from a foul ball in the majors, according to research by Gorman and Weeks.

BREWERS: Manager Ken Macha told lefties Manny Parra and Chris Narveson that they'll start the season in the bullpen.

CUBS: New owner Tom Ricketts says he will let general manager Jim Hendry run all aspects of baseball operations — including any decisions regarding the future of Lou Piniella, a Tampa native and former Rays manager.

INDIANS: Left-hander David Huff won the final remaining job in the rotation as righty Carlos Carrasco was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

MARINERS: Pitcher Garrett Olson, coming off of a finger injury early in the preseason, will start the season in Triple A.

METS: Shortstop Jose Reyes will start the season on the disabled list to get in better shape. He returned last week after a three-week absence because of thyroid issues. … Closer Francisco Rodriguez has left the team to attend to family issues in Venezuela. GM Omar Minaya said he expects the righty to be back by opening day.

ORIOLES: The team granted Chad Moeller's request for a release after Craig Tatum beat him for the backup catcher job.

RED SOX: Pitcher Junichi Tazawa, 23, will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Tuesday and likely will miss about a year.

WHITE SOX: Scott Elarton pitched two scoreless innings against Seattle in his first start since 2008. Elarton, who hasn't pitched in the majors since the Indians placed him on the disabled list in July 2008 for what the club then called a non-baseball medical condition, signed a minor-league deal this week.

DEALS: The Cardinals traded infielder Julio Lugo to the Orioles for a player to be named or cash. Lugo, 34, is a former Ray. … The Rangers got first baseman Ryan Garko off waivers from Seattle. … The Rangers sent left-hander Edwin Escobar to the Giants so Texas could retain lefty Ben Snyder, a Rule 5 draft pick.

FRONT OFFICE: Rich Levin will retire at the end of the year after a quarter century as Major League Baseball's chief spokesman. Levin is MLB's senior vice president for public relations.

JURISPRUDENCE: Former second baseman Marcus Giles pleaded guilty in California to misdemeanor battery for assaulting his wife last fall. Giles, 31, was placed on three years probation.

Safety for fans comes to forefront 04/01/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 12:55am]

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