Fan at Rays game struck by foul ball that went through protective netting

— -- ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A fan struck by a foul ball left on a stretcher in the seventh inning of the Chicago White Sox's 1-0 win over the  Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

The fan was sitting in the lower box seats on the home plate side next to Tampa Bay's first-base side dugout. Rays designated hitter Steven Souza Jr., who fouled off the ball that struck the fan, went into the stands to check on her.

The game was delayed about 12 minutes so the injured fan could be removed on a stretcher that was brought out near the on-deck circle.

"It looked like it caught her right in the eye, which wasn't a good sight," Souza said. "I'll be praying for her. Hoping that she's OK. She was able to talk to me, say a few things. Never a good sight to see."

Said White Sox manager Robin Ventura: "I know it didn't sound good at all. I hope she's all right."

After an in-depth study last year, when several fans were hurt by broken bats and foul balls, Major League Baseball recommended the extension of ballpark safety netting to the ends of both dugouts and anywhere within 70 feet of home plate.

The ball Friday night went through a gap between the netting that was about the size of 1½ baseballs behind an area designated for photographers.

The primary home plate screen to protect fans at Tropicana Field ends at the start of the photo area. A second screen was installed this season, behind the photo area. Souza's foul ball got through a narrow opening.

"Totally unfortunate," Souza said. "People are more important than that game right there. That woman's health is way more important."

Souza said he is hoping to visit the woman, who was being evaluated at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. No other details about her injuries were immediately available.

"That's tough," said White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who threw a two-hitter for Chicago. "Major League Baseball is trying to do what they can to protect fans, but that's just a tough situation. I almost felt that when it happened. You feel so bad for the individual and her family and just hope for the best."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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