A foul ball struck a baseball fan sitting near the first base dugout at LECOM Park on Tuesday.
Alex Grippi, of Beverly Hills in Citrus County, was hit in the face. He was transported to the first aid room and then via ambulance to Blake Medical Center, located at 2020 59th Street West in Bradenton. Grippi was holding a towel on the left side of his face when he was transported from LECOM Park.
Grippi, who was wearing an Andrew McCutchen shirt, was watching the game with his family, which included a son visiting from Arkansas, when Tampa Bay’s Daniel Robertson hit a foul ball off Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Josh Lindblom in the top of the eighth inning of the Pirates’ 4-3 victory. According to family members, the struck him on his glasses, which broke, causing the cuts that caused bleeding.
“That’s never a good situation,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “... I hope he gets taken care and he’s going to be OK.”
This incident comes on the heels of the Pirates announcing they are extending the protective netting from behind home plate to reach the end of each dugout at their home park in Pittsburgh. The Pirates announced that measure for PNC Park in the interest of fan safety on Monday.
There was no mention of replacing the current netting at LECOM Park, which does not extend down each base line to the end of both dugouts.
“It’s really scary,” Lindblom said. “I don’t think there’s any reason that there shouldn’t be nets over dugouts. It could very easily be prevented. Obviously, hoping and praying he’s alright. But something that could so easily be prevented that’s not going to detract from the enjoyment of the game. Being in Korea and being in Japan, nets go all the way down the lines. ... First and foremost, you want people to be safe and to enjoy the game. I just think about my kids being in the stands, and all it takes is one split second like that looking the wrong way. And not even necessarily looking the wrong way. They were closer to the plate than I am.”