ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash apologized to Blue Jays management a day after Rays veteran Kevin Kiermaier scooped up a scouting data card that fell out of Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk’s wristband and refused to give it back.
Cash said he reached out to Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Pete Walker and general manager Ross Atkins to make the apology before Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to Toronto.
“So now it’s agua under the bridge,” Montoyo said.
Kiermaier was called out sliding into home during the sixth inning of the Rays’ 6-4 win Monday night and saw a strip of paper lying next to him after the play. He casually picked it up and took it back to Tampa Bay’s dugout, where he discreetly handed it Paul Hoover, the club’s field coordinator.
“I never even looked at it, I’ll say that,” Kiermaier told Sportnet before Tuesday’s game. “But at the same time, I’m not going to drop it or hand it back.”
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.
“I had no idea we had the card,” Cash said. “I expressed that to Ross, Charlie and Pete Walker, but take full responsibility. I apologized to all of them, and if I needed to speak to (Monday’s starter) Robbie Ray, I would have no problem doing that. Not ideal and I’m sorry about that.”
There were no incidents when Kiermaier batted for the first time Tuesday, when he hit into a first-pitch double play or throughout the game.
When asked if it was an inappropriate action by Kiermaier, Cash said he didn’t think so.
“Look, the card is on the ground, KK, I believe what he said,” Cash said. “He thought it could have been his outfield card. I actually saw the video just before the game, looked like he was considering giving it back and he just said forget it, whatever, it’s sitting here I’m going to pick it up and take it in.”
Tampa Bay is six games ahead of Boston and 7 1/2 ahead of Toronto for the AL East lead, with a magic number of five to clinch a second straight division title. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are in position for the AL’s two wild cards, and the Yankees are a half-game back.