Rob Manfred Says Safety Netting Changes Likely Won't Come in 2019 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2019

Major League Baseball  Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to reporters before an opening day baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo/Associated Press

League-mandated changes regarding stadium netting are unlikely to arrive before the 2019 season ends, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday.

"It's very difficult given how far the clubs have gone with the netting to make changes during the year, because they really are structural issues," Manfred said, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "But, because safety is so important, I'm sure that conversation will begin and continue into the offseason."

Stadium netting became a topic of conversation after a foul ball from Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told ESPN.com's Jeff Passan he'd be in favor of putting up some level of netting around the entire stadium.

"There's a lot of kids coming to the games—young kids who want to watch us play," Bryant said. "And the balls come in hard. I mean, the speed of the game is quick, and I think any safety measure we can take to make sure that the fans are safe, we should do it."

MLB rolled out new rules regarding stadium netting in 2018, requiring teams to extend netting to the far end of each dugout.

Teams also have the leeway to place the netting further down the foul line. The Athletic's Levi Weaver showed approximately where the Rangers plan to place a protective barrier at Globe Life Field:

Levi Weaver @ThreeTwoEephus

Got confirmation from a Rangers exec this afternoon: in the new Globe Life Field (opening next year), nets will be extended to about here: https://t.co/38T9paO98z

Manfred's point is understandable because finding enough time to reconfigure the netting in the middle of the season wouldn't be easy.

But most fans would agree the league needs to address the issue sooner rather than later.