The Chicago Cubs have moved on to St. Louis for a weekend series against the rival Cardinals. But their hearts and minds are still back in Houston, where a young girl was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Albert Almora Jr. during Wednesday's game at Minute Maid Park.
Reports on the young girl's condition have been positive, but Cubs players remain adamant that more should be done to protect fans, and especially young kids, from suffering the same fate.
Not surprisingly, Almora has been among the most vocal.
He was visibly shaken in the aftermath of the incident. We won't soon forget the image of him sharing an emotional hug with a security guard who was near the scene. Though Almora says he's OK now, he doesn't want another player to go through that experience, and he doesn't want another kid to be hurt or have to fear being hit at an MLB game.
Latest from Almora: "I hope this never happens again, so whatever the league has to do to make that happen. I don’t think any kid that goes to a baseball game with their parents or loved one should worry about making it out unhealthy. That should never cross their mind." #Cubs
— Kelly Crull (@Kelly_Crull) May 31, 2019
In wake of Wednesday's incident, there's been another strong call for MLB to require more protective netting at all 30 ballparks.
In December of 2015, the league mandated that teams extend netting to the dugout. That requirement was met by all 30 teams prior to the 2018 season. But it still hasn’t been enough to keep fans, including one who died last season at Dodger Stadium, completely out of harm’s way.
The Cubs' Kris Bryant said he'd be in favor of putting up fencing around the entire ballpark that protects fans from baseballs that in some instances are coming off the bat at 115 MPH. That will probably never happen, but it speaks to how concerned players are about fan safety.
Hopeful for full recovery
While updates have been mostly positive, there's been no official word on the young girl’s status.
The Astros released a statement Thursday confirming that the girl was taken to a local hospital, but did not disclose any further details per the family's request.
Almora says he's been in contact with the family, but gave no further information out of respect for their privacy.
Almora indicated the family wants privacy but he said he’s ‘hopeful’ for a full recovery. Says outpouring of support has been amazing, especially from teammates.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) May 31, 2019
Almora says he’ll reach out again when the family is ready.
"I'll do whatever I can to put a smile on that little girl's face," Almora added, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
It’s clear that in that split second on Wednesday night, a lot of lives were changed. Now the onus is back on MLB to do all it can to prevent more life-altering incidents.
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