ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A small gap in the protective netting at Tropicana Field led to a fan getting hurt when she was hit by a foul ball on Friday night.
The woman was struck in the seventh inning of Chicago’s 1-0 victory. After the inning was over, the game was delayed for about 10 minutes so she could receive medical treatment. She was wheeled away on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.
The fan was sitting in box seats next to the Tampa Bay dugout on the first-base side. The ball came off the bat of Rays designated hitter Steven Souza Jr.
“It looked like it caught her right in the eye, which wasn’t a good sight,” Souza said. “I’ll be praying for her, hoping that she’s OK. She was able to talk to me, say a few things. Never a good sight to see.”
After an in-depth study last year, when several fans were hurt by broken bats and foul balls, Major League Baseball recommended the extension of safety netting at its ballparks to the ends of both dugouts and anywhere within 70 feet of home plate.
The ball went through a gap in the netting about the size of 1 1/2 baseballs behind an area designated for photographers.
“I know it didn’t sound good at all,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I hope she’s all right.”
The primary home plate-area screen at Tropicana Field ends at the start of the photo area. A second screen was installed this season behind the photo area. The ball got through a narrow opening.
“Totally unfortunate,” Souza said. “People are more important than that game right there. That woman’s health is way more important.”
Souza was hoping to visit the woman in the hospital. No other news about her injuries was expected Friday night.
“That’s tough,” said ace left-hander Chris Sale, who threw a two-hitter for Chicago. “Major League Baseball is trying to do what they can to protect fans, but that’s just a tough situation. I almost felt that when it happened. You feel so bad for the individual and her family, and just hope for the best.”
Sale (3-0), from nearby Lakeland, struck out nine for his best start to a season since going 5-0 in 2014. He retired 16 straight between singles by Desmond Jennings in the second and Steve Pearce in the seventh.
Melky Cabrera hit an RBI single against Alex Colome (1-1) with two out in the ninth. Chicago has won eight of 10 for its best start since 1982.
Jake Odorizzi gave up four hits in seven innings for Tampa Bay, which has lost five of six.
Tampa Bay lost second baseman Logan Forsythe and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier to injuries following a fourth-inning collision in shallow right-center field.
Kiermaier ran into Forsythe just after the infielder caught Avisail Garcia’s pop fly with two on and two outs.
Kiermaier appeared dazed as he sat in the outfield after the play, but was able to walk off the field without assistance.
The team said Kiermaier has a head bruise and underwent concussion protocols.
“More of it hit around my jaw,” Kiermaier said. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning. I’m not dizzy or have any of the symptoms.”
Forsythe has a bruised left hip and lower leg. He was limping as he headed toward the dugout.
“I think it could have been a lot worse,” said Forsythe, who is day to day.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) threw 20 fastballs in his second session halfway up a bullpen mound. “Better than last time,” said Cobb, who could return before the season ends. … RHP Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) threw 25 fastballs halfway up a mound during his second session.
Sale and Pearce both attended Lakeland High School. Pearce singled in three at-bats and is 4 for 12 overall against the left-hander.
Rays catcher Hank Conger did early throwing work with coach Jamie Nelson. Opposing runners have been successful on their last 44 stolen base attempts against Conger, including five by Cleveland on Thursday.
“Support more than anything,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, a former catcher. “It’s just one of those things that’s sticking out because we’re going to play a lot of close ballgames. He’s continuing to make adjustments, improvements.”
The last time Conger threw out a runner on a steal attempt was J.B. Shuck of the White Sox on May 29 while with Houston.
Chicago SS Jimmy Rollins played in his 2,200th major league game at shortstop and is 18 games from tying White Sox great Luke Appling for seventh place on the career list.
Rays fifth starter Erasmo Ramirez (1-0) makes his first start Saturday night after three relief appearances. The right-hander will go against White Sox LHP John Danks (0-1).