Saturday's spring training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates was interrupted by a fan storming onto McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida, and throwing a beer and soda can in the Rays dugout.
The fan, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, was of Cuban descent and seemed to protest the Rays' recent trip to Cuba this past Tuesday. Police did not release the name of the fan, but he was charged with assault, trespassing and causing affray, according to Topkin.
"It was a Cuba thing,'' Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi said, per Topkin. "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.''
Tampa Bay became the first major league team to play a game against Cuba since the Baltimore Orioles in 1999. Playing the Cuban national team at the Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana on Tuesday, the Rays won 4-1.
According to Topkin, the man seemed to be in his 60s. He hopped a wall in the seventh inning, charged toward the Rays dugout and began throwing the beverage containers. Some officers told Topkin the fan was also yelling in Spanish toward the Tampa Bay team bus when it arrived at the stadium.
Tampa Bay third-base coach Charlie Montoyo grabbed the fan until the police arrived to detain him, per Topkin, and Montoyo noted he could smell alcohol on his breath.
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. 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.
Rays utility player Taylor Motter noted the containers exploded when they connected with the wall. He also said it was a scary situation and security should have been on higher alert, but he was happy it was resolved.
"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," Motter said, per Topkin. "But they did a good job coming to get him as quickly as possible.''
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