OAKLAND - With the A's opening a three-game series against the Houston Astros, the baseball world is still focused on an unfortunate incident from Wednesday night in Houston.
Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. fouled a ball into the field-level seats, hitting a young girl and sending her to the hospital. Almora was visibly devastated, crying into the arms of a security guard near the seats.
The incident has sparked a debate around baseball about whether MLB ballparks should extend their protective netting. Currently, all stadiums are required to have netting to at least the end of each dugout.
Unfortunately, Wednesday's incident is not all that uncommon in baseball. With exit velocities upward of 115 miles per hour, it can be nearly impossible for even the most alert fan to get out of a baseball's path.
A's outfielder Chad Pinder told NBC Sports California he would support extending the protective netting all the way to the foul poles.
"I'm all for putting the netting all the way around," Pinder said. "Any way that teams or the league can manage to add some safety precautions, I am 100 percent onboard with that because, obviously, you never want to see something like that happen."
Oakland first baseman Matt Olson shared a similar viewpoint.
"I don't see how it can hurt," he said. "I'd say 90 percent of fans just aren't used to seeing the flight of a baseball and don't necessarily know how to react to it. I understand that they're trying to keep the fan experience, but when kids are getting hit like that, older people or people with disabilities can't react quickly enough, I would probably (lean) more toward extending the netting, just because you'd rather be safe than sorry."
As Olson noted, most fans don't have extensive experience tracking the flight of a foul ball. The vast majority of foul line drives do not fly in a straight line.
"If it's going foul, most of the time it's hooked," Olson said. "It's not coming straight. People don't know exactly how it's going to move off the bat."
A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty agreed that the safety of all fans should be a top priority.
"Fan safety is paramount," he said. "Guys are throwing balls harder than ever and guys are hitting balls harder than ever now, and they're not always hitting them straight. So it's easy to see how (Wednesday's incident) could happen."
Fellow outfielder Ramón Laureano also said he would have no issue with extended netting.
"We're looking for safety for humans," he said. "I think it's good. Anytime you can save somebody's life or minimize injury, I think it's great."
Wednesday's scary scene serves as a stark reminder of the potential danger fans can face, even if they are paying close attention to the game.
"You feel for the girl, you feel for (Almora)," Pinder said. "You never want to see something like that happen."