VIERA, Fla. - In the wake of the news that Atlanta Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar was struck by a foul ball and hospitalized on Wednesday, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman reflected Thursday on the many hazards of baseball.
Several baseball-related accidents in recent years have created a greater awareness about the safety hazards - for both team personnel and fans sitting close to the action.
“You’re not going to a game thinking about a foul ball,” Riggleman said. “It almost has to happen to somebody before it registers but we don’t want it to happen.”
During his time at Wrigley Field, Riggleman would often ask security guards to move children over to seats behind the net.
“It scares me to death to see somebody take a very young child, sometimes infants, (to a game) and they aren’t behind the net or way up there,” Riggleman said. “By the time you cover that child, the line drive has already hit him.”
He also worries extensively about the bat boys, who dart quickly to fetch stray balls while hitters in the on-deck circle swing freely. He encourages them to use caution and go way outside of the on-deck circle, but he’s always worried about a collision.
Unfortunately for players and coaches, the safety solutions aren’t simple because they need a clear view of the playing field without obstructions. Though leagues in Japan and Mexico have extra nets and protection around the infield, Riggleman believes some of those measures are to prevent fans from throwing items at the players.