May 25, 2024

Speedy turtle invades outfield, stops play at Single-A game in Bradenton

On the same day Pittsburgh Pirates star prospect Paul Skenes made his MLB debut, the franchise’s next big attraction wandered into the outfield for the team’s Single-A affiliate in Bradenton: A turtle.

In the top of the second inning, play between the St. Lucie Mets and the Bradenton Marauders was temporarily interrupted by a curious reptile scrambling across the centerfield grass at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla.

So much for baseball’s pace of play concerns. The sport’s changes have gotten even the turtles moving at a breakneck speed.

As Bradenton players Sergio Campana and Esmerlyn Valdez stared in bewilderment at the testudine in the outfield, Marauders reliever Magdiel Cotto saved the day. Cotto scooped up the reptile and jogged with it back into the bullpen.

Marauders broadcaster Thomas Zinzarella told The Athletic the turtle was kept in the bullpen for a few innings before it was released into a pond that runs beyond the outfield wall.

“As Cotto also told me, I’d say it’s a first and a bucket list item,” Zinzarella said after the game. “It’s also not the first time I’ve had a run in with animals on the broadcast. Last year when I was with the Hudson Valley Renegades, my broadcast partner Joe Vasile and I had a wild goose on the field that went viral on social media.

“I’ve always loved Kevin Harlan’s TV and radio calls of animals on the field, so I tried to have some fun with it! A memorable night for sure!”

Saturday’s heroic game for Cotto ended with him tossing two scoreless innings to earn his first professional save.

Including Skenes, — who struck out seven in his Saturday debut and, like the turtle, wowed the Pittsburgh fanbase with his speed — the Pirates entered 2024 with four prospects in The Athletic’s Keith Law’s top 100 ranking. Two of the organization’s top-20 prospects, Omar Alfonzo and Michael Kennedy, are currently playing for Bradenton.

Neither are expected to lose their spots in the rankings to their new turtle teammate.

Nearly 3,000 miles away, another animal wandered into a baseball field outfield, this time in San Francisco. There, play between the Giants and Cincinnati Reds didn’t even stop as a pesky pelican roamed around the shallow outfield.

As play continued, Giants outfielder Heliot Ramos made an impressive diving catch just feet from the bird. It’s not clear if the San Francisco ovation was for the play or the pelican.


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(Photo: Josh TiJong / MLB Photos via Getty Images)