CHICAGO – Here are two stories about two Twins players who were determined to show their support in the fight against racial injustice before Friday’s season opener.
Righthander Trevor May headed straight for the Twin Cities from Florida after baseball shut down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The native of Washington state was in town during the death of George Floyd and the resulting protests and riots.
“Watching protests out my window,” May said Saturday, “and knowing the season was going to start soon and not really — knowing for my job that being down there probably wasn’t the smartest move to make, just for me moving forward — but there was some shame and some guilt attached to that for me and my wife and my family. It’s something I feel strong about.”
May and his teammates have had many serious and difficult conversations about current events, touching upon subjects that normally don’t take place in a clubhouse. But it’s allowed May to see different sides of his teammates.
“Just like any other workplace. The common adage with politics, religion and money. You usually don’t go into those,” May said. “Only go in those with your closest friends and your family, right? So this kind of gets into a more serious nature of things, but it’s phenomenal that I think guys are really, really open to have the conversations, and you’re hearing things from guys that you’ve never heard before and that is kind of the key. That is the point of this whole thing, is to have the conversations and to listen to stories and to get some context.”
And May joined several of his teammates and coaches Friday in kneeling in the name of justice and equality during the national anthem. He then was the winning pitcher in the Twins’ season-opening 10-5 victory over the White Sox.
Meanwhile, center fielder Byron Buxton — as it turned out — did not join teammates in Chicago to play. The plan is for him to debut sometime during the upcoming homestand.
Buxton, recovering from a left midfoot sprain, made the drive into town Friday just so he could be part of the pregame activities.
“I think Buck made the decision and wanted to make the decision to drive down to be with his teammates on Opening Day,” said Derek Falvey, Twins president of baseball operations. “Having just made that drive as well, it’s not too bad. It’s pretty quick. You can get down here pretty quickly and he wanted to be down here for his teammates, for Opening Day for baseball, but also for being a part of what transpired pregame, something that he felt really strongly about and wanted to make that trip.”
Buxton was with Taylor Rogers and LaMonte Wade Jr. along the first base line when they all knelt during the anthem. Buxton came to the park Saturday to get treatment and work out. And the Twins are confident that he will enter the lineup sometime next week, perhaps Tuesday’s home opener.
But they were supportive of him driving 400-plus miles to make his statement.
“It was a very, very important day for a lot of people,” said manager Rocco Baldelli, who also knelt during the anthem. “I know it was exceptionally important for Byron to be there on Opening Day with us, to be with his teammates, to take part in the pregame ceremonies.”
Hill back on hill
Lefthander Rich Hill was scratched from Saturday’s start so he could get a couple more days of rest before making his Twins debut. The Twins acknowledged Wednesday that the 40-year-old was feeling a little sore and needed the extra time.
Hill played catch Friday and threw in the bullpen Saturday and told the Twins he felt good.
So Hill is scheduled to start on Wednesday vs. St. Louis at Target Field. Homer Bailey will start Tuesday’s home opener.
The Twins are wearing a black patch with white “RC” letters in honor of minor league infielder Ryan Costello. The 23-year-old Connecticut native, who was to play in the Australian Baseball League over the offseason, was found dead in his New Zealand hotel room in November.