Eight fans waving Puerto Rican flags ran onto the field tonight in the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium as the Baltimore Orioles' Jeff Conine stepped to the plate to face New York Yankees reliever Jason Grimsley. The fans apparently were protesting a controversial U.S. Navy target range on Vieques Island near Puerto Rico.
About 216 protesters were removed from the Navy's bombing range on Thursday. Puerto Rican protesters had occupied the Navy's 60-year-old Atlantic fleet training range since April 1999 after a civilian Navy guard was killed in an accidental bombing.
One of the fans who ran onto the field, a woman who climbed over the blue-padded fence along the third-base line in left field, ran to Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams--a native of Puerto Rico--and handed him a T-shirt.
More than 20 stadium ushers stormed the field, apprehended the fans and escorted them from the field. A Yankees spokesman said he believed the fans would be arrested and charged.
Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick, who entered tonight's game tied with Oakland's Jason Giambi for the American League lead in RBI with 30, said little has changed in his life--with the exception of being asked to do a few more interviews.
Bordick said his life is still the same away from the field and that he has not noticed a change in the way opposing pitchers approach him.
"It's always adjusting to pitches," said Bordick, who had a team-record 29 RBI in April. "They pitch you one way one night and then it is up to the hitter to make adjustments." . . .
Before the game, Orioles Manager Mike Hargrove said he had not met with pitcher Mike Mussina but that he expected all to be well with the right-hander's pitching arm. After throwing 138 pitches in his previous start, Mussina gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings--his shortest outing of the season--in an 8-5 loss to Anaheim on Thursday.
"His ego might be bruised a little bit," Hargrove said, "but Mike Mussina will be all right." . . .
The Yankees were without second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who has a sprained wrist. Rookie Wilson Delgado started in his place.