Friday, December 15, 2017
Sports

Cuba protester throws beverage containers into Rays dugout

BRADENTON — The Rays came face-to-face with political fallout from their trip to Cuba during Saturday's game at McKechnie Field when a fan ran onto the field and threw two beverage containers into their dugout.

The fan, who was of Cuban descent, was arrested and charged with trespassing, causing affray and assault (for throwing a can of beer), according to Bradenton police Lt. John Affolter. Police did not release his name. Rays players said he threw two items, a beer and a soda.

"It was a Cuba thing," Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi said. "I don't speak Spanish too well. … I think it was a Cuban person, frustrated about the politics of it, I guess. He threw two beer cans. Nobody got hit. Nobody did anything. Maybe some guys got wet. It was a Cuba thing."

The man, who appeared to be in his 60s, hopped a low wall at the far end of the dugout during the seventh inning, ran in front of the dugout, yelled what police and players said were obscenities about the Castro regime and threw the beer into the dugout.

"I think he just missed a couple of the guys," INF/OF Taylor Motter said. "I know it hit the back wall and exploded. … We just tried to duck and weave as best we could."

Rays 3B coach Charlie Montoyo grabbed the man and put him in a bear hug until police came from the other side of the field.

"I just saw him throwing stuff to the dugout and then I realized his age, so I was just holding him and I was telling him, I realized he speaks Spanish, telling him to relax," Montoyo said. "I didn't hear what he was yelling, I just saw the two things and then I was holding him. He smelled like beer or rum or something. … To me it was an old person drunk, so I felt bad for him."

Other officers said the same man was seen hollering at the Rays bus when it arrived.

Motter said the dugout incident was unsettling.

"It just scares me," he said. "If it was or wasn't related to Cuba or it was or wasn't related to MLB, I still feel like security should have been there a little more, knowing that we're on the map a little bit. But they did a good job coming to get him as quickly as possible."

ODO SHARP: Odorizzi worked impressively into the seventh against mostly the Pirates' top hitters, allowing one run (a David Freese homer) on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts, including All-Star CF Andrew McCutchen twice on high fastballs.

"Facing their 'A' squad lineup, getting into the seventh inning, one little mistake, it was good," Odorizzi said. "I think I really threw the ball well."

EASTER HIT HUNT: With their schedule disrupted again by Monday's scheduled off day, a number of Rays will be out running around on the grass this morning in Port Charlotte.

LHP Matt Moore, who is set to face the Blue Jays for real April 6, will pitch and a number of position players will participate in an 11 a.m. minor-league intrasquad game to get extra at-bats. The Rays will do something similar Tuesday in a Triple-A game in Fort Myers. "We don't want guys to get two days off this late," manager Kevin Cash said.

GAME DETAILS: The Rays (11-10-1) beat the Pirates 3-1. … Class A 3B Cristian Toribio had a thrill, homering off Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, a fellow Dominican. … OF Steven Souza Jr. laced a two-run double to left in the second.

MISCELLANY: INF Tim Beckham said his right shin, hit by a pitch Thursday, was still too sore to play Saturday, but he hopes to play in the intrasquad game today. … 1B James Loney worked out with the team in Bradenton rather than go to Port Charlotte.

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