Acuña’s encounter and Guaranteed Rate Field shooting raise questions about safety of players, fans


CHICAGO (AP) — A shooting that likely happened inside of Guaranteed Rate Field, followed by a scary moment for Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. in Colorado. Both in a span of four days.

While Major League Baseball is on track for a marked increase in attendance this year, the pair of high-profile incidents raised questions about the safety of players and fans inside and outside of big league ballparks.

A spokeswoman for the Major League Baseball Players Association said Tuesday that the union takes player safety “very seriously” and that it reviews club and stadium protocols throughout every season “to mitigate the possibility of similar future incidents.”

Acuña had an encounter with two fans during Atlanta’s 14-4 win over Colorado on Monday night.

One fan got his arms against Acuña during the middle of the seventh inning. Two security people quickly grabbed the fan and, as they tried to drag him away, a third security person approached.

A second fan then sprinted toward the group, knocking down Acuña, and that fan was tackled as one of the security people chased him down.

The two fans are facing charges of trespassing and disturbing the peace, according to the Denver Police Department.

“I was a little scared at first,” Acuña said through an interpreter. “I think the fans were out there and asking for pictures. I really couldn’t say anything because at that point, security was already there and we were already kind of tangled up, but security was able to get there and everything’s OK. We’re all OK and I hope they’re OK.”

Teammate Kevin Pillar expressed relief Acuña wasn’t hurt.

“Thankfully, they weren’t there to do any harm, but you just never know during those situations,” Pillar said. “They were extreme fans and wanted to get a picture, put their hands on him. But in no way is it appropriate for people to leave the stands, even more to put their hands on someone else.”

The incident with Acuña occurred on the same day that Chicago’s interim police superintendent said a shooting that wounded two women at Friday night’s Athletics-White Sox game most likely involved a gun that went off inside Guaranteed Rate Field.

Both wounded women, ages 42 and 26, were expected to recover from the shooting that occurred during the fourth inning. Police said the 42-year-old sustained a gunshot wound to the leg and the 26-year-old had a graze wound to her abdomen. The 26-year-old refused medical attention, according to a police statement.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said Tuesday that the investigation remains active, and no further information was available.

If the gun went off inside the home of the White Sox, the focus turns to how it was brought into the facility. Major League Baseball has had mandatory metal detection screening in place since opening day in 2015.

It also raises questions about the decision to continue playing the game. Fred Waller, interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, said police initially requested that the game be halted after the shooting was discovered. The White Sox said Saturday that they were not aware at first that a woman injured during the game was shot, and that police would have stopped play if officers thought it was unsafe to continue.



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