HOUSTON (AP/KXAN) — The two-year-old girl who was struck by a foul ball during a May game between the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs suffered a skull fracture, according to the family’s attorney.
Attorney Richard Mithoff provided the first update from the girl’s family on her condition since she was hit during the May 29 game in Houston. The ball flew her way after Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit a fourth-inning line drive into the stands down the third base line.
Mithoff said the girl had bleeding and swelling in her brain, as well as a brain contusion. He said she had a seizure after she was hospitalized and is taking medication to prevent more. Her recovery progress will be re-assessed this month.
“I think any physician watching any child get injured thinks ‘Oh gosh, I hope they are ok’ and then you think ‘ugh.’ You think all of the things that could have happened and the consequences that can come from this,” said Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Kate Labiner of Child Neurology Consultants of Austin.
Labiner is not part of the girl’s medical team but explains to KXAN how a brain injury in a two-year-old can lead to significant consequences.
“So anytime you get an injury, they [kids] will often take a step back in terms of the things they are able to do or learned to do. As a two-year-old, you are talking about speech and communication skills that could be affected by that. A majority of kids will get that back but there is no guarantee on how long that might take or how quick their recovery might be.”
Like all major league stadiums, Minute Maid Park has netting to protect fans near the field from foul balls. On the third base side in Houston, it extends to the end of the visiting team’s dugout. In a statement released Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the family said they were sitting one section away from where the netting ends at Minute Maid Park.
Almora was extremely shaken up by the incident and close to tears in the moments following the girl being hit. He has declined talking about it since that night, but after the game when asked if the protective netting should be extended, he said:
“Right now, obviously, I want to put a net around the whole stadium.”
On Wednesday Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he understands why Almora doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, and that he hopes the girl recovers quickly. He was asked about the possibility of extending the netting to protect more fans.
“It’s going to happen,” Maddon said. “I mean, there’s no question, it’s going to happen. I’ve been doing this a while and I’ve seen different situations like that. I’ll be on board with something like that.”
Following recommendations from Major League Baseball, all 30 MLB teams have expanded their protective netting to at least the far ends of the dugouts.
The action came after several fans were injured by foul balls in 2017.
At Yankee Stadium in May 2017, a boy was struck on the head by a portion of Chris Carter’s broken bat. A fan sitting beyond the first base dugout was hit by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Aaron Judge in July of that year. And in September, a young girl was injured by another 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier and was hospitalized.
But the extension of the netting hasn’t stopped fans from being injured. On Sunday, a young girl was taken to a hospital for precautionary tests after she was hit in the head by a foul ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger. She was sitting four rows from the field along the first-base line, just beyond the netting that extends to the end of the visiting dugout. The team said earlier this week that they’re studying how to improve the netting in the wake of the incident.
Another woman died last August after being struck in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium.
In Chicago, the White Sox plan to become the first team to extend the protective netting to the foul poles, planning to take the step at Guaranteed Rate Field after a female fan was struck by a ball hit by Eloy Jimenez on June 10.
The Astros declined comment on the situation on Wednesday.