April 5 (UPI) — A bald eagle sank its talons into Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton Thursday during the national anthem at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn.
The unwanted interaction occurred before the Mariners took on the Twins for their home opener. Paxton, 29, was standing out in left field for his warmup when the eagle circled the stadium. It eventually came to a stop on Paxton’s right shoulder. The eagle put out its claws and grasped onto Paxton’s jersey as the pitcher bent over to protect himself from the razor-sharp barrage.
Paxton stoically shook off the exchange and returned to a standing position. The eagle landed on the ground before it was taken away by its handler.
The Mariners’ starting left-hander and Canada native started Thursday’s game after allowing six runs and six hits in the Mariners’ 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians Saturday at Safeco Field in Seattle.
Paxton’s nickname is “The Big Maple,” according to Baseball Reference.
“The Big Maple” shutout the Twins and allowed just two hits and had six strikeouts through four innings Thursday.