Bees prompt delay in Mariners-Cubs game

Heyward stung multiple times in center field

Bees prompt delay in Mariners-Cubs game

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward was stung more than 10 times by a swarm of bees that swooped into center field Sunday at Sloan Park, prompting him to try to escape by jumping onto the fence. Play was stopped for about five minutes in the top of the third inning of the Mariners' 12-9 victory.

"They came over from right field," Heyward said of the bees. "I saw them moving around a little bit, but [right fielder Mark Zagunis] was doing what I was doing, which is wearing it because we knew the game was going on. I wasn't thinking to get out of there until it got crazy. I was like, 'OK, I'm not going to stand here,' so I tried to get away."

Heyward was swatting at the bees, and then finally ran toward the center-field fence, and jumped onto it for safety. The bees kept coming.

"I should have gone over the fence," Heyward said.

Fans on the berm in left and center hid under blankets. Cubs relievers vacated the left-field bullpen, and shared the right field bullpen with the Mariners.

"That was wild," Cubs starter Jason Hammel said. "I've never had a delay like that before."

The bees attached themselves to a chair in the bullpen. Hammel watched from the pitcher's mound as the bizarre scenario unfolded.

"You could see them from left field all the way to center, they were everywhere," Hammel said. "The fact that Heyward isn't swollen beyond belief right now, I don't know how he made it out of that."

Maybe bee pollen helped? Heyward hit a two-run homer in the Cubs' third. And Matt Szczur, who was in left field, belted a solo homer in the eighth. Szczur joked later that maybe the bees were the reason he hit the homer, but it's no laughing matter.

"[Heyward] was all right, and said, 'Go ahead, play,' and then they came my way and I thought we've got to stop it," Szczur said.

The bees stung Heyward on his face and the back of his head, but he was calm.

"If I was allergic, I would not have stayed there," Heyward said. "I thought, 'If [Hammel is] still pitching, I'm still playing center field.

"I've seen it happen in a Minor League game one time, but [the swarm] went through quicker than that and didn't last as long," Heyward said. "That lasted for a while."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.