'I'm just praying' Albert Almora Jr, father of 2, opens up about horror of girl being hit by foul ball

HOUSTON, Texas -- Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. says he immediately locked eyes with the girl hit by a foul ball off his bat during the fourth inning of the game against the Houston Astros Wednesday night.

Almora hit a line drive into the field-level stands down the third base line, where the girl sat. His reaction was instant.

Almora put his hands on his head, eventually falling to his knees near home plate. He was consoled by teammate Jason Hayward and manager Joe Maddon.

RELATED: Foul ball hits child during Astros game against Cubs

Astros pitcher Wade Miley also showed Almora support.

"Credit to Miley as well. Came to me and you know, tried to calm me down," Almora said.

The Associated Press photos captured the intensity of the moment as the girl was picked up by a man and whisked up the stairs. As she was carried away, she was conscious and crying while fans looked on.

Almora, understandably distraught during the game, spoke to ESPN after about how he tried to regain his composure and continue with his at-bat.

"I finally came to my senses after the next half inning when I went over to the stands," Almora explained. "I just couldn't hold it anymore."

The 25-year-old was comforted by a security guard as he tried to get more information on the girl's condition but only received "unofficial updates."

"I wish I could say more, I don't know. I'm just praying. I'm speechless. I'm at loss of words, being a father, two boys ... but God willing I'll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. But just prayers right now and that's all I really can control," Almora said, barely looking at reporters.

Almora was also asked about whether he believes netting should be put around the entire stadium.

"Right now, obviously, I want to put a net around the whole stadium..." Almora trailed off, still appearing to be on the verge of tears.

Like all Major League Stadiums, Minute Maid Park, where the Astros play, has protective netting near the field to protect fans from foul balls.

In February 2017, the Astros added expanded netting from dugout to dugout, reaching 12 feet in height. The netting also increased in height behind the backstop, reaching a maximum height of 32 feet.

READ MORE: Astros expand netting at Minute Maid Park for the 2017 season

The girl was sitting in what looked to be the third or fourth row about 10 feet past where the netting ends.

The Astros released a statement, saying that the girl was taken to the hospital. No further details were given.

"The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family," the team said, in part.



Major League Baseball released a statement Thursday saying, "The events at last night's game were extremely upsetting. We send our best wishes to the child and family involved. Clubs have significantly expanded netting and their inventory of protected seats in recent years. With last night's event in mind, we will continue our efforts on this important issue."

Originally from Hialeah, Florida, Almora primarily plays center field.

He signed with the Cubs after being selected in the first round by the team out of Mater Academy Charter in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

He spent time with the minor league teams before being promoted to the Major Leagues in June 2016.

Almora, whose father played baseball in Cuba, is close friends with the Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado.

As Almora told reporters Wednesday night, he's a father of two boys AJ and Antino, who was born last October.

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Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. was left in tears after a line drive went just beyond the net, striking a child in the stands at Minute Maid Park.



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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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