Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier causes controversy with this grab

Rays notes | The centerfielder picking up a pitching data card dropped by the Blue Jays’ catcher leads to an apology by manager Kevin Cash.
Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, shown in a screengrab from the Sportsnet video just before he picked up the pitching data card during Monday's game.
Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, shown in a screengrab from the Sportsnet video just before he picked up the pitching data card during Monday's game. [ Photo from video (Sportsnet) ]
Published Sept. 22, 2021|Updated Sept. 22, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier created a brief and what both sides say is a now-resolved controversy by picking up a Blue Jays pitching data card at home plate Monday and not giving it back.

The card, which contains info on how Toronto pitchers should best pitch Tampa Bay hitters, fell out of Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk’s wristband during a sixth-inning play at the plate. Kiermaier took it to the Rays dugout and gave it to Paul Hoover, one of their coaches, all of which was captured on video.

Before Tuesday’s game, Kiermaier told a reporter from Sportsnet, the Jays’ TV rightsholder, which first reported the story, he first thought it might have been the outfield positioning card he keeps in his pocket, then realized what it was.

“At that point “he said, “I’m not giving it back. It is what it is.”

Kiermaier did not talk to reporters after Tuesday’s game; he is expected to address the matter before Wednesday’s game.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said he was not made aware of the issue until shortly before Tuesday’s game and reached out to Jays general manager Ross Atkins, manager Charlie Montoyo and pitching coach Pete Walker. “I had no idea we had the card. I expressed that to Ross, Charlie and Pete Walker,” Cash said. “But take full responsibility. I apologized to all of them.”

But Cash also said from watching the video he did not think Kiermaier did anything wrong: “It looked like he was considering giving it back and he just said, Forget it, whatever. It’s sitting here. I’m going to pick it up and take it in.”

The Jays, according to Sportsnet, were so upset they sent the batboy over to ask for the card back later in Monday’s game and the Rays said no, making a crack about it. But since Cash didn’t know about the issue then, he said he dismissed the request thinking Montoyo — his good friend and former Rays coach — was kidding, as they occasionally do, with the batboy as a messenger.

“Charlie and I go back and forth a lot during the course of a game,” Cash said. “I actually thought he was joking. But, regardless, not ideal. And I’m sorry for that.”

Montoyo said after Tuesday’s game he also considered the incident over.

“(Cash) is my friend over there, and he came and apologized,” Montoyo said. “Now it’s agua under the bridge.”

Medical matters: Franco, Wisler

Rookie shortstop Wander Franco worked out Tuesday with Triple-A Durham, getting five at-bats in a live batting practice session, and is slated to play five-six innings for the Bulls Wednesday and seven-eight Thursday in the final test of his previously strained right hamstring. If all goes well, he is set to rejoin the Rays Friday. … Reliever Matt Wisler played catch with no issue from the middle finger inflammation that has sidelined him all but one day since Aug. 15, but Cash said the bigger test will be a Thursday or Friday bullpen session when he throws breaking balls. … Among other injured pitchers, Cash said Oliver Drake (flexor strain) is shut down, Ryan Thompson (shoulder inflammation) is just starting to throw and has “a long way to go” and Cody Reed (June thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) is “highly unlikely” to make it back, but the Rays “don’t want to rule anything out just because he’s worked so hard to get back.”


• Dewey Robinson, 66, is stepping down at season’s end as director of pitching development, having spent 12 seasons with the Rays helping many of the prospects who reached the majors, and 41 in the game. The Rays thanked and congratulated him; Robinson said he was “open to the right situation” elsewhere.

• Reliever Joey Krehbiel, the Seminole product called up Saturday and designated for assignment Sunday, was claimed on waivers by the Orioles and will join them in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

• • •

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