The Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros wore Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 Friday night to honor him, then didn’t play in a protest against social injustice and systemic racism, two causes close to Robinson’s heart.
Saturday the two team will put those No. 42 jerseys back on, again to honor the man who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947.
On Friday, it was the A’s quickly agreeing to support the Astros, who had been off Wednesday and Thursday when other teams had been protesting in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake by the police in Kenosha, Wisc. The A’s were one of those teams Thursday, protesting by declining to play their series finale against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
As baseball returns, A’s third baseman Matt Chapman is convinced baseball was doing what was necessary by taking part in those protests. And he’s happy to be joining in giving a shoutout to Robinson by wearing his number in Saturday’s Game 1 at 1:10 p.m. (PT).
“Yesterday obviously we did something a little bigger,” Chapman said on a Saturday morning video call. “We still want to honor Jackie Robinson and what he did for a lot of people in this game.”
It’s been an emotional time for Chapman, from his part in the clubhouse conversations on just how the A’s should respond in a time of national activism to the sitting out games Thursday and Friday in an effort to raise consciousness to wearing Robinson’s number.
“These last two days have meant a lot to me to be able to stand up and support my teammates and support people in this country who are struggling and who feel like their voice hasn’t been heard,” he said. “We’re trying to do our part and raise awareness.
“I know a there is a lot more that needs to happen, but for us to be able to at least stop baseball for a couple of days and get people to think about some things that are really important means a lot to me. It means a lot to my teammates.”
The player-to-player conversations seem likely to stay with Chapman and his teammates. He called them “great conversations.”
“There were a lot of people sharing experiences that have either affected them or help shape what’s going on,” Chapman said. “We talked about what happened to Jacob Blake and guys shared different opinions on that and what we could do moving forward and what we thought we could do to make a bigger impact.
“To all get on the same page – maybe guys that felt one way about it left the conversation feeling another way – and to hear people’s feelings about it and where they come from, it was just a pretty cool conversation.”
In the middle of everything else, the A’s traded Franklin Barreto to the Angels Friday night, getting Tommy La Stella in return – La Stella is supposed to join the club sometime during the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Barreto and Chapman came up together through the minor leagues and they’ve been tight.
For all of that, the third baseman said he thought this was a good move for Barreto, who wasn’t getting any playing time with the A’s, and he told Barreto so.
“I hope he gets that opportunity,” Chapman said. “I know that it hasn’t been exactly how he’s wanted it to go here with the A’s; we’ve had a lot of really good ballplayers come up all at the same time, so somebody’s going to be the odd man out. And unfortunately Barreto didn’t get the opportunities maybe he would have wanted.
But for his to get a fresh start with a new organization, I think is huge for him. We know what he’s capable of doing. I just told him that it was a blast playing with him. I told him I loved him and best of luck and I know he’s going to go show everybody what he can really do.”
--Chad Pinder’s wife, Taylor, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Christopher James Pinder early Saturday morning. There is a possibility that Pinder will join the team for Sunday’s series finale, but with the A’s having a day off Monday, he might opt to join the team in Seattle Tuesday.
--Because of the off-day Monday, manager Bob Melvin said he doesn’t have to alter the rotation for the time being, even with a doubleheader today seeing Chris Bassitt and Frankie Montas start for Oakland.
--Lefty A.J. Puk is closing in on being ready to rejoin the roster. He threw two innings Friday in San Jose at the alternate site, and he’s scheduled to throw two more – perhaps coming in during the middle of an inning – in a simulated game Monday. After that, it’s possible he’ll be ready to join the club as a left-hander power arm out of the bullpen.
--Catcher Austin Allen, who is with the team as part of the three-man taxi squad, was added to the A’s roster as the 29th player for the doubleheader.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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