Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. was visibly distraught Wednesday after a foul ball he hit during a game against the Houston Astros struck a young fan, sending her to an area hospital.
The incident occurred in the fourth inning of Wednesday night’s game at Minute Maid Park. Almora fouled a ball into the stands, striking a young girl, and she was immediately carried away from the field.
“As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her,” an emotional Almora said after the game. “Right now I’m just praying and I’m speechless. I’m at a loss of words.”
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The game paused for several minutes after the incident, with Almora taking a knee in the batter’s box while he was consoled by teammates, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, and opposing pitcher Wade Miley.
Ultimately the game continued, and Almora went down toward the section of stands where the girl was hit before being hugged by a security guard in a heart-wrenching scene.
“The rest was kind of a blur,” he said of the time after his at-bat. “I kind of finally came to my senses after the next half-inning when I went over to the stands.”
The Astros issued a statement after the game, saying that the girl had been taken to an area hospital, but were unable to confirm her condition.
Almora was one of several Cubs players, including Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward, who called for Major League Baseball to further extend netting down the foul lines in an effort to prevent similar incidents from happening. The league recently mandated that netting extend to the end of both dugouts, but many players want the league to go even further than that.
“Right now, obviously, I want to put a net around the whole stadium,” Almora said.
Aside from big picture concerns, Almora said that he will continue to pray for the little girl’s health, and that he intends to remain in contact with her and her family after the terrifying incident.
“God willing I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life,” he said. “But just prayers right now and that’s all I really can control.”