Angry fan throws beer can into Rays’ dugout in Cuba protest
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) A man apparently angered by the Tampa Bay Rays’ recent trip to Cuba made his way onto the field and threw a full can of beer into the team’s dugout Saturday night during a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Nobody was hurt. A member of the Pirates’ grounds crew and Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo restrained the protester until police arrived, briefly delaying the game.
The man was arrested and will be charged with causing a fray, trespassing and assault, Bradenton police Lt. John Affolter said. Police would not yet identify the man.
“I’ve worked games here for 23 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Affolter said. “I’ve seen a streaker, I’ve seen a lot. I thought I’d seen it all.”
During the seventh inning, the man moved toward the field from the seats behind third base, jumped a short fence and ran onto the grass in front of the Rays’ dugout at McKechnie Field.
According to players and Bradenton police, the man shouted obscenities about the Castro regime in Cuba. He threw a can of beer that smashed into the back wall of the Rays’ dugout.
“Nobody got hit,” Tampa Bay pitcher Jake Odorizzi said. “Maybe some guys got wet.”
Pittsburgh shortstop Jordy Mercer saw it all unfold from the Pirates’ dugout.
“I just heard a loud boom and I saw beer fly,” Mercer said. “You never know what’s going to happen. But law enforcement was on it, which was good. And the Rays players were too, so they helped out, too.”
Montoyo said he told the man to calm down.
“I realized he speaks Spanish, so I was telling him to relax,” the coach said. “I didn’t hear what he was yelling. He looked old, so I kind of felt bad for him. I was holding him and not trying to tackle him.”
The Rays played an exhibition game against the Cuban national team in Havana on Tuesday. President Barack Obama attended the game, part of the first visit to the Communist island nation by a sitting American president in 88 years.