Child's injury sparks call for increased netting
NEW YORK — Brian Dozier doesn't see any gray area in the debate.
The Twins' second baseman unequivocally called for protective netting to be extended down the baselines at all major league ballparks after a harrowing incident Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium sent a little girl to the hospital.
"We've been trying to get these teams to put nets up," Dozier said after a Todd Frazier foul line drive in the bottom of the fifth inning caused the game to be delayed by several minutes as first-aid workers attended to the child. "Either you don't bring kids down there or No. 2, every stadium needs to have nets. That's it. I don't care about the damn view of a fan. It's all about safety."
As Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday waited at second base during the delay, and most players went down to one knee out of respect for the situation, Dozier was overcome by emotion.
"I still have a knot in my stomach," Dozier said. "I never look. For some reason I did. Right in the face — little kid. We were out at second base just saying a prayer and we were in tears together. Matt's a good friend of mine. Matt saw it."
The girl, who was sitting with family in the sixth row behind the third-base line and beyond the camera well, was carried out of the seating area by an older gentleman. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters after the game that the child was "doing OK, and the Yankees released a statement saying the girl was "given first aid at the ballpark and is receiving medical attention at an area hospital."
After play resumed, Frazier flied out to center off Twins rookie reliever Nik Turley, who was affected by the incident as well.
"It's scary," Turley said. "Sitting so close to the action, foul balls like that happen all the time. You just pray no one gets hurt. It was tough. You just knew something happened from Frazier's reaction. He went down to a knee right away. He knew he'd hit somebody."
Twins manager Paul Molitor didn't see the initial impact but immediately understood the gravity of the moment.
"It stops you in your tracks, gives you a little perspective," he said. "I saw some people turn away and they couldn't look."
Target Field installed protective netting over both dugouts before the 2016 season, but major league baseball continues to allow teams to make their own determinations depending on seating proximity to the playing field.
Hicks still out
Unless Aaron Hicks makes it back in time for a potential wild-card matchup the day after his 28th birthday, the Yankees outfielder will miss facing his old team entirely this season.
Likely headed to his first all-star game before missing 40 games with a strained right oblique muscle, the former Twins building block landed on the shelf again at the start of September after straining the same muscle on his left side.
"Just kind of a freakish thing," Hicks said. "(Yankees trainers) said it's the first time they've ever seen it. I guess it's because I'm a switch-hitter and have to work on both sides. It's a little frustrating."
Before his first injury, Hicks was hitting .290 with a .398 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage. He dropped off to a .207 batting average in 100 plate appearances after his return, but is still hitting .265 with 13 home runs overall.
What's been the difference from his Twins days?
"It's definitely not mechanically," he said. "I think just playing time and being able to be comfortable with where I was at in the batter's box. I've been able to swing at solid pitches, and I've been coming up with solid game plans and been able to execute. I'm just a more confident player."
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