Thursday, June 13, 2024

Rays take Blue Jays’ card containing pitching plan, reportedly refuse to give it back

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The Blue Jays are reportedly angry at the Rays after an incident from Monday’s game resulted in Tampa Bay finding — and keeping — their opponent’s pitching plan.

During Monday’s game — a 6-4 win for the Rays and the first of a three-game series between the AL East teams — Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was called out at home in the bottom of the sixth. While still down on the field, he saw a piece of paper, picked it up and took it with him to his team’s dugout, handing it to Paul Hoover, the team’s major league field coordinator. The paper was dislodged from Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk’s wristband during the play, and likely contained the team’s pitching plan against the Rays.

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Below is video of the event, which only took a few seconds from the time Kiermaier was called out:

According to a report from Sportsnet’s Arash Madani, the Blue Jays sent a ball boy to the Tampa dugout to retrieve the card once they discovered what happened; the Rays reportedly “scoffed” at the request and kept the paper.

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Sportsnet spoke to Kiermaier before Tuesday’s game, with the center fielder saying he didn’t even know what it was at the time he picked it up:

“The play happened so fast. … I picked it up, didn’t know what it was, whether it was mine or not. They’re all pretty similar, and then as I picked it up, I realized it was that,” Kiermaier said. “I never even looked at it, I’ll say that. But at the same time, I’m not going to drop it or hand it back.

“Everything was so quick and after I did it I was like, ‘Dang, their scouting reports or whatever it was, was on the ground and I grabbed it.’ Like I said, it got to the point that I’m not going to return it or do that. It’s September, whatever. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Madani reported the Blue Jays were “pissed” at the incident, with one source telling him, “if there’s one card we wouldn’t want any opponent to have, it’s that one.”

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Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters on Tuesday he spoke with Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo about the incident, saying he had been unaware of the situation. Montoyo confirmed that Cash apologized to him, calling the whole thing “aqua under the bridge.” Perhaps that’s because his team managed to hold off the AL East-leading Rays for a 4-2 victory, stranding two on base in the bottom of the ninth.

Tampa Bay is well on its way to winning the division for the second straight year, but Toronto is in a tight race with the Red Sox and Yankees for a wild-card spot. With the win on Tuesday, the Blue Jays remained a half-game ahead of the Yankees with only 11 contests on the season remaining.

The teams’ series concludes Wednesday at 3:10 p.m. ET.

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