Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier took a Toronto data card back to the Rays’ dugout in a bizarre incident that began with a play at the plate during a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays Monday night in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The card was pried loose from catcher Alejandro Kirk’s wristband during a play in which Kiermaier was tagged out at the plate on a slide.
Though Kiermaier claimed to reporters that he did not look at it, Rays manager Kevin Cash on Tuesday told reporters that he spoke to Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo about the incident, saying he was unaware of the situation and that he would speak to his players about it.
When asked about the matter, Kiermaier told SportsNet that he didn’t realize it was the Blue Jays’ card when he picked it up. “I never even looked at it, I’ll say that,” he told the Canadian network. “But at the same time, I’m not going to drop it or hand it back.”
Given the incident happened during play, it was captured by several outlets, and video shows that, after being called out to end the inning, Kiermaier handed the card to Paul Hoover, the club’s major league field coordinator.
SportsNet reported Toronto sent a bat boy to the Rays dugout to ask for the card’s return. Tampa Bay did not send back the card, which likely included information about the Blue Jays’ plans to pitch to the Rays’ hitters.
Though the Rays are comfortably in first place in the American League East, the Blue Jays are in a tight battle with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees for an AL wild-card berth. On top of that, with both teams just miles apart from each other during spring training in the Tampa Bay area — and then division foes during the regular season — there is a clear rivalry that exists.
The victory gave Tampa Bay a seven-game advantage over second-place Boston with 11 games remaining, while the loss dropped Toronto’s edge on the second wild-card spot to just a half-game ahead of New York. The Blue Jays and Rays continued their series at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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