‘Concerned and hurt’: Tigers’ game postponed

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers’ series opener against the Twins on Thursday was postponed following discussions by both teams in which players decided not to play in protest of social injustice.
The game will be made up Friday as part of a doubleheader beginning at 1:10 p.m. ET. Matthew Boyd will start the

The Tigers’ series opener against the Twins on Thursday was postponed following discussions by both teams in which players decided not to play in protest of social injustice.

The game will be made up Friday as part of a doubleheader beginning at 1:10 p.m. ET. Matthew Boyd will start the opener opposite Randy Dobnak, followed by Tigers prospect Tarik Skubal’s third Major League start in Game 2. Both games will be seven innings.

The Tigers and Twins reached separate decisions in meetings not to play. The Tigers’ decision followed an emotional team meeting in which players spoke about their experiences and feelings following the recent shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis.

“We had a very emotional meeting in the clubhouse and our players spoke out about what was going on in this country,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “[Cameron] Maybin and guys really spoke out deeply. They were concerned and hurt. We knew it was going to be a really tough time to try to get out on a baseball field. A lot of people stepped up and talked. It’s one of those things that meant a lot to all of us, and we wanted to reaffirm how much we have our players’ backs and we try to understand what they go through on a day-to-day basis. A lot of them reached out to us and basically told us what they’re going through on a day-to-day basis with all these things happening in the states.

“We stand unified as a group, baseball does, and our baseball team did too and made a decision not to play. And personally, I don’t know how good it would’ve been if we did play, because there were a lot of emotions in that clubhouse.”

Following that meeting, Gardenhire said he informed the Twins of their decision.

“We had our meeting. They had their meeting,” Gardenhire said. “We walked over to tell them that we decided not to play. I walked over to talk to [Twins manager] Rocco [Baldelli] and he told me the same thing. They just got out of a meeting and their players had decided that the right thing to do was not play, stand unified.”

Six other games Thursday across Major League Baseball also were postponed after three games were postponed Wednesday, including the Reds-Brewers game in Milwaukee. Several players in games that were played decided not to take part, including All-Star outfielder Jason Heyward in the Cubs’ series finale against the Tigers Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

Tigers and Cubs players had discussions about potentially postponing that game, but ultimately decided to play with Heyward’s support. Even so, the emotions were evident.

“I think everyone’s going to handle things the way they feel they need to handle it,” Tigers shortstop Niko Goodrum said after the game. “Things have to change in this world, man. Things have to stop. It’s right and wrong, and what’s going on is wrong. If guys choose to sit out and that’s how they want to send their message, then I’m all for it. I didn’t choose to do that, but I do recognize that things have to change. …

“It’s bigger than sports. This is a game we play. And what’s going on is much bigger than a baseball game or any sport that’s going on. These are lives that have been lost. Day in, day out of the same thing. It’s a shame that it’s going on the way it is. Things need to change. Before I come to the field, I have to leave my house. I’m a human being just like anyone else. And I have to make it to the field. Those are things that we shouldn’t have to worry about, going to the field, is something going to happen? Or if I get pulled over, is something going to happen? I shouldn’t have to fear that when I get up in the morning.”

Those emotions carried over into discussions between players Wednesday night and into Thursday.

“Last night, our guys came out and said they wanted to play. But over the course of the night, there were a lot of phone conversations and text messages between our players and trying to make sense of what’s going on,” Gardenhire said. “And they told me they had a lot of conversations until late in the night over the phone and texting about how hard it was to play last night. And they were happy they did play last night, because it took their mind off things. But when you start thinking about what’s going on in this country and what some of our players are going through, that was the conversation today, and everybody was able to get it out instead of holding it in, in front of everybody.

“It was a really good meeting. That made the difference. Honestly, it was so emotional in there, I don’t know if I could’ve played baseball.”

Tigers general manager Al Avila said earlier Thursday that he would support the players if they decided to protest.

“We all have to make a stand in however we feel we best make our statement,” Avila said. “And if our athletes think that’s the best place to make their statement, that’s the way they want to do it, then that’s fine, and we support it. Everybody has to make their decision on how to combat racism, or any injustice to tell you the truth. So if an athlete feels that this is the way I’m going to make my statement, then we would support that. For me, the world needs a lot more love. And I would say any kind of protest for me, anything that you take away violence is a key for me. And so obviously it’s a non-violent way to make a statement.”

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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