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Pitcher booted for striking bird

Pitcher Jae-kuk Ryu

A minor-league pitcher in the Chicago Cubs organization has been booted from his Florida nest and now faces criminal charges after knocking a bird from its perch with a baseball this week.

“Jae-kuk Ryu is no longer a Daytona Cub,” says Buck Rogers, the team’s general manager.

The 19-year-old South Korean, who throws a 96-mph fastball, was demoted to the Lansing Lugnuts in Michigan following the uproar over Monday night’s incident at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach.

Before a spring-training game against the Port St. Lucie Mets, Ryu took several tries to aim for and successfully knock an osprey from its nest.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is now charging Ryu with injuring the osprey. The misdemeanor count includes a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail upon conviction.

Ospreys: ‘Ozzy and Harriet’ in better days

After WorldNetDaily gave the story national exposure, the Daytona Cubs were flooded with hundreds of angry e-mails, including this one from Angelika Hoeffer in Daytona Beach:

I just read the most disgusting story about your player first laughing about missing an osprey and then hitting it, causing serious injury. This was obviously deliberate. You don’t first laugh and then throw another pitch in the same direction without intent to do harm.

Jae-kuk Ryu is cruel, a monster, has no regard for life and has no place in baseball, minor or major leagues. This is an outrage and if you don’t do something to remove this player, you are just as liable as this vicious a– of a human. Send him back to wherever he came from, after he finishes his jail term, pays fines and all cost associated with treating this semi-endangered species of regal bird. Furthermore, we will boycott all games until he is removed – permanently.

Rogers responded to Hoeffer by writing: “We would hope that you would please understand that we are as deeply hurt over this incident as you are. In addition to the ospreys, we have ducks
and squirrels in the ballpark that we feed and provide for on a regular basis. We are indeed upset.”

Other WorldNetDaily readers think the incident is being overblown, and the punishment too harsh:

‘Ozzy’ the osprey (WKMG-TV)

The osprey, known as Ozzy, is still recovering from injuries to its eye, and the Daytona Cubs have slated a Friday night fund-raiser for the clinic treating the bird.

“From our ownership down to our front office staff, we share the anguish of the community surrounding this tragic event,” said Rogers. “When it came to our attention that the Animal Clinic of Edgewater exists on private donations, we decided that a fund-raiser to assist the people responsible for healing Ozzy is something positive that can come out of this negative incident.”

“The kid feels awful,” Oneri Fleita of the Chicago Cubs front office told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. But Fleita says the organization felt it had no choice but to move Ryu down in the Cubs’ minor-league system.

“The attention we’ve gotten as the Chicago Cubs is very negative,” he said. “I thought for the safety of the players, and the message has to be sent that this behavior will not be tolerated in our organization.”

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