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Angry fan throws beer can into Rays’ dugout in Cuba protest

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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.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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