Blue Jays to replace and extend protective netting at Rogers Centre
The retractable roof of the Rogers Centre gets stuck open as the rain begins to fall during the sixth inning of the Toronto Blue Jays game against the Baltimore Orioles in Toronto on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. (The Canadian Press/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, January 15, 2018 12:29PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 15, 2018 4:14PM EST
TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays became the latest Major League Baseball team to announce plans to extend the protective netting at their home stadium Monday.
New netting will be extended to the outfield end of each dugout at Rogers Centre. Existing netting behind home plate will be replaced and increased in height by about three metres, the team said in a statement.
"It's something we've been working on through the off-season," said Andrew Miller, the Blue Jays' executive vice-president of business operations. "It'll be installed in mid-to-late February in time for Opening Day on March 29. It's something we're always thinking about -- the safety of our fans.
"We thought this was a good opportunity for us to extend the netting."
Several big-league clubs announced plans to expand protective netting last season after a young girl was injured by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. The 105-m.p.h. line drive hit her in the face in less than a second.
The Blue Jays said the existing netting at Rogers Centre meets MLB's recommended guidelines, but the newly installed netting will exceed those standards.
"We're always cognizant of things that are going on around the league as well as obviously things that happen here," Miller said. "Any time there's an incident anywhere in the league, it's something we take notice of.
"We want our fans to be safe and we thought this was the best thing to do at this point."
The Blue Jays will entertain the New York Yankees in their home opener. The team said the new state-of-the-art netting is designed to blend into the background and provide greater visibility.
"There's no knots in the netting, it's a dark green colour that blends in with the field colour," Miller said. "So it's easier for fans to see through the netting."
MLB issued recommendations for protective netting or screens in December 2015, encouraging teams to have it in place between the ends of the dugouts closest to home plate.
The Blue Jays said the changes were part of their "ongoing commitment to providing fans with a safe and enjoyable environment at the ballpark."
There are no plans to make changes at the team's spring training complex in Florida. Dunedin Stadium already has netting coverage across the dugouts.
The Blue Jays will kick off their pre-season schedule Feb. 23 against the Philadelphia Phillies.