Extended netting cheered by Braves: ‘It’s long overdue,’ Freeman says

This diagram, from the Braves, shows how the netting will be extended at SunTrust Park.

This diagram, from the Braves, shows how the netting will be extended at SunTrust Park.

The Braves’ decision to extend the protective netting at SunTrust Park drew cheers – and sighs of relief – in the clubhouse.

“In my 10 years in the big leagues, I’ve seen too many medical staff come running down the aisles, seen too many kids get hit (by line-drive foul balls),” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said Tuesday. “It’s long overdue. I’m so happy the Braves decided to do this.

“It’s kind of been grilled into me now that when a line drive is hit into the stands I don’t even look any more. So I’m happy, I really am. It’s for the fans’ safety. Now they can enjoy the game without getting hit by a 100-mile-an-hour line drive.”

The Braves said Monday that they will extend the protective netting to the foul poles. It currently runs to the far ends of the dugouts. The project should be completed by the end of September, "barring any complications," the Braves said.

Braves manager Brian Snitker, who last week expressed his strong support for expanded netting in MLB stadiums, welcomed the front office's decision.

“I think it’s great for the fan experience and safety,” Snitker said Tuesday. “I don’t know that there’s anybody that puts a uniform on that doesn’t embrace that and isn’t a fan of it. I think it’s a great move for the Braves to do that.”

The Braves join 10 other MLB teams that have announced this summer plans to extend the netting to or near the foul poles in their stadiums to protect fans from injuries inflicted by line-drive foul balls. A few of those teams already have completed the work, and others have said they’ll do so by the start of next season, if not before.

“This is the right move, and hopefully all the other teams start doing it very soon, too,” Freeman said.