Newly installed safety netting on the third base line at...

Newly installed safety netting on the third base line at Citi Field on July 14, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Major League Baseball on Thursday announced that all 30 ballparks will have expanded protective netting installed by Opening Day on March 29.

MLB said in a statement that netting will extend to at least the ends of both dugouts. Most teams have gone further than that to try to prevent a repeat of disturbing incidents in which fans have been hit by foul balls.

“Providing baseball fans with a variety of seating options when they come to the ballpark, including seats behind protective netting, is important,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Major League clubs are constantly evaluating the coverage and design of their ballpark netting, and I am pleased that they are providing fans an increased inventory of protected seats.”

The Yankees announced last month that they will extend the netting to about halfway to the outfield foul poles in time for their April 2 home opener. The Mets expanded their netting at Citi Field last July.

The Yankees were criticized last year for not immediately extending the netting after a 1-year-old child was seriously injured by a 105-mph line drive off the bat of Todd Frazier during a game against the Twins on Sept. 20. The club said at the time that it was studying how best to accomplish the task and planned to have it done by the start of this season.

There were other incidents of balls flying into the Yankee Stadium stands and injuring fans during the 2017 season, including one on July 25 in which a fan was bloodied by a liner off the bat of Aaron Judge.

In addition to the netting at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees are adding a similar system at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa in time for the start of spring training, which begins later this month.

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