ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Kevin Kiermaier grabbed a Toronto Blue Jays data card shaken loose from Alejandro Kirk’s wristband during a play at the plate and the Tampa Bay Rays later laughed off a request to return the proprietary sheet.
The incident during the bottom of the sixth inning in Monday’s 6-4 Rays win added another element of intrigue to the rivalry between the AL East clubs.
Several Blue Jays declined to discuss the matter while Rays general manager Erik Neander deferred comment, saying he had just learned of Kiermaier’s actions and was headed to the clubhouse to better understand what happened.
Rays manager Kevin Cash later came out of the clubhouse to chat with Blue Jays counterpart Charlie Montoyo.
Asked about the matter, captured on video, Kiermaier said 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 said. “But at the same time, I’m not going to drop it or hand it back.”
Video captured Kiermaier handing the card to Paul Hoover, the club’s major league field co-ordinator.
Once the Blue Jays realized the card was missing, they sent a bat boy over to the Rays dugout to ask for its return. But the message back made a joke of the matter, saying something like, “we can’t hit Robbie Ray anyway.”
Spoke w/ Kiermaier. These are his comments.
Around 5:20 pm, Kevin Cash came out to speak with Charlie Montoyo about it.
The Jays are pissed. As a team source told me, "if there’s one card we wouldn’t want any opponent to have, it’s that one"
More at 6:30 pm on @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/Rp6iaGNPwM
— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) September 21, 2021
Data on the card would include ways to attack various hitters and other information the team would be even more protective of. While approaches to certain hitters change often and are visible in game, allowing a rival to see how and what types of information are presented in game to players is far from optimal.
While not as deliberate as the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal or the smartwatch manipulation employed by the Red Sox a few years back, Kiermaier’s actions will again raise the discussion of what’s acceptable in a game with the adage of “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying.”