A minor-league pitcher in the Chicago Cubs organization has created a major flap after aiming for and knocking down an osprey from its perch with a baseball.
Pitcher Jae-kuk Ryu
South Korean Jae-kuk Ryu of the Daytona Cubs could face animal-cruelty charges for striking out at the bird Monday night at Florida’s Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
“The bird’s eye was gushing blood,” Chad Efron, a trainer with the Port St. Lucie Mets told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “I started yelling at [Ryu]. I got all fired up.”
The bird, known locally as Ozzy, had been nesting with its mate and chicks on a 40-foot light pole over left field, when it was struck after several pitches by Ryu during pre-game practice time.
“He laughed when he missed,” Efron said. “Then he acted like he was sorry when the bird was laying there.”
‘Ozzy’ the osprey (WKMG-TV)
The osprey is being treated for a serious eye injury at the Animal Clinic of Edgewater, Fla., where veterinarians are using anti-inflammatory drugs and are trying to get Ozzy to eat.
“We’re just keeping him warm and quiet,” said technician Jennifer Rosenfeldt. “It’s unfortunate that people don’t have respect for nature.”
Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are tight-lipped about its investigation into the incident, but it says ospreys are recognized by the state as a species of special concern, meaning their habitats are vulnerable.
Osprey nested in left-field light pole
Wounding or killing one is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail.
“You can’t intentionally harm an animal,” said Daytona Beach Animal Control officer Melody Baum. “If somebody deliberately threw the ball, it’s animal cruelty.”
Team officials are still trying to determine details of the incident.
“I’ve got to look and see what happened,” Cubs manager Rick Kranitz said. “I’m sure the intention was not to kill the bird.”
According to WKMG-TV in Orlando, angry phone calls and e-mails have been pouring into the park, with most messages suggesting the pitcher be punished for his actions.
Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson strikes dove in 2001 spring training
This is not the first incident involving baseball players hitting birds with balls.
In March 2001, pitcher Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks struck a dove in mid-flight as he delivered a pitch in a spring-training game against the San Francisco Giants. The dove was instantly pulverized.
In 1983, New York Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield killed a seagull in Toronto with a warmup throw. Police charged him with animal cruelty, though the charge was later dropped.