Tampa Bay Rays prospect Garrett Whitley may have ended any opposition to extended netting due to the injuries he suffered when a foul ball hit him in the face.
It is fairly routine to see a foul ball hit into the dugout during a game. It can be a moment of hilarity when players wave towels in mock surrender or scatter to the opposite sides of the dugout. There was the time that David Hulse basically declared war on the Angels dugout, sending four consecutive foul balls into the same spot, even bringing him to chuckle about the situation. Then, there was the situation that occurred on Monday, where Tampa Bay Rays prospect Garrett Whitley was hit in the face with a lined foul that came into the dugout.
According to manager Kevin Cash, and tweeted by Tampa Bay Times reporter Marc Topkin, Whitley suffered multiple facial fractures and will miss considerable time this season. Somehow, he managed to retain consciousness throughout the ordeal, and was able to return home instead of staying overnight in the hospital.
For Whitley, this is another bad break. The former 13th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, he missed the entire 2018 campaign due to a shoulder injury. While he returned last season, Whitley did not show the same pop he had displayed previously, producing a mere .226/.339/.412 batting line, hitting ten homers and 25 doubles while stealing 16 bases.
This incident also highlights the dangers of the hard foul. Seemingly every month, there is a fan who is struck with one of these foul drives, occasionally leading to serious injury. Every major league team has agreed to extend their netting beyond their dugouts ahead of the 2020 season, with seven teams extending the netting to the foul poles.
While the vast majority of baseball fans are in favor of expanding the nets, there is that vocal minority. They claim that, if the fans would just pay attention to the game, or not have young children in those prime seats down the lines, then these injuries wouldn’t happen. You know, back in the day before these kids and their phones and newfangled inventions like shoes…
Let’s face it – some random fan is not going to have the same reflexes as a professional ballplayer. And the pros sometimes get hit with those fouls as well. If someone like Whitley can suffer major injuries from a foul, why wouldn’t Major League Baseball want to protect the fans?
Fortunately, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Garrett Whitley will be okay. His injury should also end the netting debate once and for all.