Dodgers begin process of extending netting

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers soon will join a growing list of teams to extend the protective netting at their stadiums, an increasingly vital measure in a time when baseballs are presumed to be coming off the bat more rapidly than ever.

When the Dodgers returned to L.A. for a six-game homestand beginning Tuesday, their existing netting, residing behind home plate and extending to the end of each dugout, had been raised from 25 to 33 feet. By the time the team returns for its next homestand on Sept. 2, the netting will be extended down each foul line to the point where the wall angles toward the outfield corners, an area that resides roughly between the edge of the infield dirt and the end of the outfield warning track.

The second phase of the process will be executed while the Dodgers play in San Diego and Arizona next week, according to a club official, confirming local reports. It will consist of about 130 feet of additional netting on each side.

Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said the team, via its analytics department, looked at numbers of every foul ball at Dodger Stadium during this season's first half to determine the proper height and length of the new protective netting.

"I don't want to go too deep into that data, but with everything we learned, I think we did it right," Kasten said. "We have the right height, the right length, but we'll keep learning and studying. If it needs to be made bigger or smaller in the future, we'll adjust."

The Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros have extended the protective netting at their respective stadiums, and the Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates have announced plans to do the same.

Last August, Linda Goldbloom, a fan sitting in the loge section behind home plate at Dodger Stadium, died as a result of an injury she sustained by a foul ball that sailed just above the prior netting.

The old netting has been donated to the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, which will use it to help refurbish a baseball field in Compton.