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Fan critically injured at Fenway by broken bat expected to recover

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Oakland A's at Fenway Park in Boston on Saturday, but the bigger story was happening at a nearby hospital, where a fan who had been critically injured by a broken baseball bat Friday night was reported by police to be recovering.

Parts of bat fly into stands as Oakland's Brett Lawrie grounds out

A woman was critically injured when part of a baseball bat flew into the stands and hit her in the head during a game between the Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Oakland A's at Fenway Park in Boston on Saturday, but the bigger story was happening at a nearby hospital, where a fan who had been critically injured by a broken baseball bat Friday night was reported by police to be recovering.

There was a moment of reflection for Tonya Carpenter at the ballpark before Saturday's game. Sitting a few rows back to the left of home plate between the screen and Oakland's dugout Friday night, Carpenter was struck by a piece of Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie's broken bat in the second inning.

She was wheeled from the ballpark on a stretcher and rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Hospital. She was in serious condition Saturday, her family said in a statement.

Lawrie, from Langley, B.C., was out of the A's lineup Saturday, but manager Bob Melvin said it was because of a back issue, not because of any psychological effects after the incident. Lawrie entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

'It was violent'

Alex Merlis, of Brookline, Mass., said he was sitting in the row behind the woman when the broken bat flew into the seats just a few rows from the field between home plate and the third base dugout.

"It was violent," he said of the impact to her forehead and top of her head. "She bled a lot. A lot. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that."

You try to keep her in your thoughts and, hopefully, everything's all right.- Brett Lawrie, Oakland Athletics player whose bat broke and injured fan

​Merlis said the woman had been sitting with a small child and a man. After she was injured, the man was tending to her and other people were trying to console the distraught child, he said.

"You try to keep her in your thoughts and, hopefully, everything's all right and try to get back to the task at hand," Lawrie said when asked how he was able to refocus after what happened. "Hopefully, everything's OK, and she's doing all right.

"I've seen bats fly out of guys' hands in the stands and everyone's OK, but when one breaks like that — has jagged edges on it — anything can happen."

Bat regulations changed in 2008

Concerned about a rash of flying broken bats and the danger they posed, Major League Baseball studied the issue in 2008 and implemented a series of changes to bat regulations for the following season.

Multi-piece bat failures are down about 50 per cent since the beginning of the 2009 season, MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said.

Multi-piece bat failures are down about 50 per cent since Major League Baseball adopted new bat regulations. Here, Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz swings through with what is left of his bat during a game on May 16. (John Froschauer/Associated Press)
Though dozens of fans at big league ballparks are struck by foul balls each season, there has been only one fatality, according to baseball researchers — a 14-year-old boy killed by a foul line drive off the bat of Manny Mota at Dodger Stadium in 1970.

The National Hockey League ordered safety netting installed at each end of NHL arenas after 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil was killed by a deflected puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets game in 2002. She died two days later, and her parents eventually settled for $1.2 million US with the team, the league and the arena management.

"First and foremost, our thoughts and concern and certainly our prayers go out to the woman that was struck with the bat, her and her family," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A scary moment, certainly.

"All you can think about is a family, they come to a ball game to hopefully get three hours of enjoyment, and unfortunately, with how close our stands are to the field of action, an accident like this tonight is certainly disturbing."

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