New Mexico court throws baseball curve

The parents of a young boy struck in the head when a batter hit a ball into a picnic area before an Albuquerque Isotopes game can sue the minor league team and the city, an appellate court has ruled.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals in Santa Fe declined to adopt the so-called “baseball rule,” which immunizes stadium owners from liability as long as they have screens protecting the stands behind home plate.

The court said there is “no public policy reason to justify bestowing immunity on the business of baseball.” The decision clears the way for a lawsuit by the parents of Emilio Crespin to proceed in state district court in Albuquerque.

The Isotopes – the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate – and the city of Albuquerque will ask the state Supreme Court to review the decision issued last week.

Four-year-old Emilio Crespin was with his family at a picnic table in the left field stands on July 21, 2003, when Dave Matranga of the New Orleans Zephyrs hit a batting practice home run that fractured the boy’s skull.

According to the family’s lawyer, Crespin suffered permanent brain damage.

Diamondbacks’ Upton on disabled list

All-Star outfielder Justin Upton was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Arizona Diamondbacks with a right oblique strain, cutting at least two weeks out of what has been a breakout season

Upton, who will turn 22 later this month, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft and was batting .301 with 20 home runs and 66 RBI in 103 games.

But Upton pulled up attempting to steal a base during the eighth inning of Arizona’s 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Short hops

Milwaukee Brewers star Prince Fielder and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Guillermo Mota have been fined but won’t be suspended for their run-in this week. Mota hit Fielder on Tuesday, presumably as payback for Manny Ramirez being hit earlier. Afterward, Fielder charged across a hallway toward the Dodgers’ clubhouse but was restrained by teammates and security. … The banged-up Boston Red Sox have put outfielder Rocco Baldelli on the 15-day disabled list because of a bruised left ankle. … St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Brad Thompson has been suspended for three games and fined for throwing a pitch near the head of the New York Mets’ David Wright on Wednesday. The decision was appealed. … The Kansas City Royals activated right-hander Doug Waechter from the DL and put reliever Juan Cruz on it with a shoulder strain. … The New York Yankees have acquired pitcher Chad Gaudin from the San Diego Padres for a player to be named. … The San Diego Padres extended manager Bud Black’s contract through the 2010 season and will have a club option for 2011. Terms of the deal were not announced.