OAKLAND — Dane De La Rosa was so scared by the creature scurrying at his feet in the third inning of Thursday night's game in the Oakland Coliseum that he jumped off the bullpen bench.
"I thought it was a rat," the Angels reliever said. "It was a pigeon. It came out of nowhere. You don't expect something wild to come walking up. I don't know if it was wounded. It just did not want to fly at all. I didn't want it to get into the outfield and cause a pigeon delay … so I grabbed it."
So began a made-for-television moment that ESPN devoted a SportsCenter segment to and that boosted De La Rosa's Twitter followers by more than 300.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound De La Rosa, cupping the pigeon in both hands, walked from the bullpen, which is down the right-field line, to the first base dugout, up the tunnel to the clubhouse and out the back door of the stadium, releasing the pigeon in the players' parking lot.
Teammates started calling De La Rosa "Birdman." The pitcher received so much praise from animal lovers on social media that he had to stop responding to messages Friday.
"For a bird, you believe that?" said De La Rosa, who threw a scoreless eighth inning in the Angels' 8-3 win. "It's a weird world."
There were also concerns about the health risks of handling a pigeon, but "I made sure to wash my hands really well," De La Rosa said.
From BART to Bart
Before Josh Hamilton faced A's pitcher Bartolo Colon on Friday night, he rode a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train from San Francisco to Oakland, the right fielder's commute to work altered by a bomb scare that shut down the Bay Bridge in both directions Friday afternoon.
All of the Angels regulars except Hamilton took the first bus, at 2 p.m., from the team hotel to the stadium, but by the time Hamilton went to the lobby to catch the 4 p.m. bus to the park, the bridge was closed.
"I walked straight to the BART station," Hamilton said. "You gotta make adjustments, baby."
Was it the first time Hamilton, who played five years in Texas, took public transportation to the Oakland Coliseum?
"No, what do you think, I'm spoiled?" he joked. "The Rangers used to have one bus, so we took BART all the time. No one even recognized me. It was cool."
The bridge was reopened late Friday afternoon.
Jason Vargas, recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot in his armpit, threw 49 pitches off a mound Friday and could begin a minor league stint next week. … Second baseman Howie Kendrick was not in the lineup Friday for the third time this season. He said he's experiencing "a little soreness, which is normal," but Manager Mike Scioscia said Kendrick will play Saturday. … Center fielder Peter Bourjos (broken bone in right wrist) will begin taking dry swings Saturday and hopes to progress to soft toss and batting practice next week. … Infielder Brendan Harris, designated for assignment last Saturday, signed a minor league deal with the Yankees.