Cleveland Indians practice with live chickenESPN staff September 5, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Women should play five sets - Murray »
Mascots have become part and parcel of professional sports, but the Cleveland Indians went one further on Wednesday when they introduced a live chicken to their pre-game practice session.
The MLB team, enjoying a resurgent season, tweeted a picture of "Cody" on the field during batting practice ahead of their victory over the Baltimore Orioles, standing on the outfield with the players "shagging flies" - a baseball term for catching fly balls.
It's a, well, interesting day at Progressive Field. Yes, that is a live chicken in the outfield shagging flies. pic.twitter.com/fKTHeG5LIA— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) September 4, 2013
Pitcher Justin Masterson carried the chicken onto the field for the team's pre-game warm-up. The bird, supplied by one of the Indians' clubhouse workers from a local farm, spent most of batting practice standing with Cleveland's pitchers.
The chicken, unfazed by its surroundings, stood calmly on the field while balls hit during batting practice fell nearby. The bird had been given to pitcher Cody Allen, who was nicknamed "Chicken Al" by team-mate Frank Herrmann in spring training.
Cleveland went on to win the game, beating Baltimore 6-4 and jumping the Orioles in the scramble to win one of the American League's two wild-card spots and a place in the playoffs.
Indians manager Terry Francona knew about the joke ahead of time but was still surprised to see a chicken on a baseball field. He said it will be returned safely to the farm.
"I'm pretty OK as long as we win, but I don't know about farm animals," he said.
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.