New York Yankees: Is Gleyber Torres the Future at Shortstop?

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak. A big reason for why that all started was Gleyber Torres.

In the final game of the opening series, against the Washington Nationals. Torres sparked a late-game rally by hitting a solo home run in the top of the 7th, taking out the gem-throwing Patrick Corbin. Then in the top of the eighth inning, he drove in Aaron Hicks on a single to left field, which was the game-winning run.

There are many questions surrounding the Yankees about replacing Didi Gregorius’s excellence at shortstop. Can Torres improve his defense to stay at short? Can Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada break out, possibly shifting LeMahieu to first? How long will it take Anthony Volpe to make it to the majors? Will the Yankees go after Francisco Lindor?

Options for Boone at Shortstop

Gleyber Torres

The obvious answer for right now. Cashman traded for him to hopefully replace Derek Jeter in the long run. So far, he has shown he can do that. Torres has proven he can develop into a future MVP and captain in this league. Also, a quick reminder that he is only 23 years old. The only problem is: will his ability to hit for power at such a young age move him to second or third base like Alex Rodriguez?

Tyler Wade

The 25-year-old Wade has proven he can compete for a starting job, with his spark plug performances off the bench. He is also a better defender than Torres and has more range as well. However, his inconsistency at the plate will hurt his chances at getting that job.

Thairo Estrada

A less likely candidate to take over Torres’s spot at shortstop, but definitely not out of the question. He impressed the coaching staff in summer camp with his surprise of power off the starting rotation. His primary position is second base and may not have the arm strength to make deeper plays at short.

Anthony Volpe

His name is only on here as a long-term option. Volpe most likely needs 3 to 4 full years of baseball before he gets to the majors. He was a first-round pick for a reason. Time will tell to see if he has what it takes to be the next face of the franchise.

This could be an issue that Boone and Cashman should discuss if it becomes apparent that Torres is not the future at shortstop. For the meantime, Torres seems to be holding his own out there, and as long as he keeps mashing, he will only get rewarded even more.

 

New York Yankees: Aaron Hicks doesn’t feel 100 percent yet, but he’s ready for Opening Day

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

As New York Yankees‘ outfielder Aaron Hicks reminisces his big home run in last year’s American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, he says he hit it while playing on borrowed time. He needed surgery to repair ligament damage in his throwing elbow, and he underwent it after the postseason ended.

He was slated to miss the New York Yankees’ first half in the 2020 season, but the COVID-19 pandemic struck and delayed the start of baseball for months. As it turns out, he will likely be a member of the Opening Day lineup and won’t miss a single game following Tommy John surgery.

“You always want to be able to be the guy that makes Opening Day,” Hicks said on Sunday. “I’m kind of just blessed to be able to have the opportunity to still make Opening Day and not miss a single game. That’s kind of what’s exciting about this whole situation for me.”

As of today, the only player to undergo the elbow surgery and not miss a game was Tony Womack, who went under the knife on Oct. 6, 2003 and started at second base for the Opening Day in ’04.

The Yankees are hoping he can throw without hesitation

The Yankees outfielder revealed that he doesn’t feel quite 100 percent yet, but that is to be expected, according to his explanation.

“It feels good right now,” said Hicks. “You don’t really fully feel 100 percent — they say it takes like a year to fully feel back to normal again — but I feel really, really good. The ball has been coming out really well this past week. I feel like I’ve been able to get a lot more carry on my ball, especially throwing to home [plate].”

The Yankees’ outfielder and two-way star says that he used to be hesitant when throwing, but that’s not the case anymore.

“There is something in the back of my head that still has that memory of what it felt like when I used to really let it go, especially during the postseason when I felt that pain,” Hicks said. “I really haven’t thought about it in a while. When a game situation comes up, I’m going to just do it organically and see how it goes.”

The Yankees are hoping he can make the adjustments he is working on, as he says he is tinkering with his right-handed swing, his natural side.

“I still feel like I’m a little bit behind against lefties,” Hicks said. “You want to see guys that kind of sling the ball, you want to see different stuff. I just feel like I’m a little behind the curve as far as my right-handed swing, but left-handed swing, I feel good.”

Why Yankees’ Clint Frazier could secure a starting job to start the 2020 season

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Yankees’ Clint Frazier is a major league talent that has been stuck behind New York’s outfield depth for years. He played in 39 games last year due to the plethora of injuries that the Yankees had to deal with.

However, he didn’t play well in right field causing the Yankees’ trust in him to drop. He has been working hard to improve his fielding and has seemed to impress manager Aaron Boone.

Is this the year that we finally see Frazier’s name in the Opening Day lineup?

Clint Frazier was a part of the Andrew Miller trade in 2016 and has been stuck in the Yankees’ minor-league system ever since.

He made his debut on July 1st, 2017 and has played a decent amount of games for the Yankees. However, he has yet to secure his spot on the roster. Frazier is a Major League Baseball player. He’s just on the wrong team. A lot of Yankee fans think he would serve as a good trade piece but the organization hasn’t shown anything that would make us believe they plan to do so.

So, what’s their plan?

It’s hard to tell what the Yankees’ intentions are for Frazier. Especially now that they are trying to move Miguel Andujar to the outfield. The Yankees have HUGE depth in the outfield and it’s really hard to pick a time and a place where Frazier can become a permanent starter.

Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and Hicks will replace Gardner once he retires. So where does Frazier fit?

Over the past two years, we’ve seen Judge and Stanton on and off the field with different injuries. That is why Frazier has been playing in so many games recently. But with Stanton, Judge, and Hicks expected to start things in the outfield, we might see Frazier in that DH spot. Or, with Aaron Judge missing his second straight intrasquad game, it could be possible that we see Frazier start things out for the Yankees on July 23rd. The Yankees are expected to use Stanton as a DH to start the season so it could be that New York plans to use Frazier out there instead of Gardner.

This year has been crazy already, who knows what we might see next. Right now, I don’t see Frazier in the lineup against the Nationals on Opening Day. If a spot opens however, I have no doubt that Frazier will be able to hold his own. He has the ability to start for most ball clubs and the Yankees know that. I think New York has something up their sleeve for Red Thunder this year. Look out to see how the Yankees plan to incorporate Frazier this season.

New York Yankees: Aaron Hicks set to make history

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

When the MLB returns to action at the end of next week, New York Yankees centerfielder Aaron Hicks is set to make history. He will be the first known player to play on Opening Day after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the offseason.

Last August, Hicks went on the IL due to elbow pain. He remained on the IL for the rest of the regular season and the ALDS. But, he was feeling better come the ALCS and the Yankees activated him for the series. Although batting just 2-for-13 in the ALCS, Hicks hit a massive three-run home run in game five to extend the series another night.

After the season, more extensive testing showed that Hicks needed Tommy John surgery, and successfully underwent the procedure in November. Doctors told him that he would be sidelined for 8-to-10 months, but fortunately he ended up on the lower end of that spectrum.

Hicks has been partaking in all of the Yankees “Summer Camp” workouts and has been playing in the televised simulated games. He says that he feels fine, and is ready to go. If the season was going on as planned, he would just be coming back anyway. This is perfect timing for him and one of the guys that the coronavirus shutdown helped.

The Yankees signed him for a long extension through 2025 before the 2019 season, and are hoping they make their investment worth it. Hicks has been a guy who has struggled with injuries over his career, and they need that to change. His power and defense make him an important part of the Yankee lineup, and he still has a lot of potential.

 

New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier has been dealing with secret foot injury for months

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Despite having a new strength and conditioning coach in Eric Cressey, the New York Yankees still can’t manage to escape the injury bug. With Aaron Judge, James Paxton, Giancarlo Stanton, and more all returning from injury and attempting to stay healthy, there’s a lot of emphasis on recovery and rehabilitation.

However, we can add another name to the list. Clint Frazier has been dealing with “a little foot issue” for months, manager Aaron Boone stated following Tuesday’s intrasquad game.

The New York Yankees are taking things easy with their injured players

Frazier has been taking it easy for the past few months, as the lingering issue has affected his play. That is a major reason why he has taken minimal at-bats and looked a little bit off. Usually, his name rings a bell on occasion, but he has been mostly a ghost the past few weeks. He seems to be well on his way to recovery. Frazier was launching homers prior to the start of the game on Tuesday.

“But he’s been able to do anything from running to playing the outfield,” Boone said of Frazier, who launched a few booming home runs in batting practice hours before. “So we’re just taking of slow playing him (at DH) these first couple of days.”

With the active roster being expanded to 30 players, Frazier has a fantastic opportunity. He can lock down an active spot with a good summer camp performance.

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Frazier was a bit a rocky in 2019

Last season with the Yankees, he played in 69 games, posting a .267 batting average with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. The majority of his deficiencies came on defense, as he struggled with a .963 outfield fielding percentage and committed three errors.

Frazier has the offensive prowess to excel at the MLB level, and an increase in defensive production would help him significantly in this development. If he can earn one of the expanded four roster spots, they will likely utilize him in the outfield as Stanton and Judge could rotate in the DH spot for the time being.

Boone stated that Stanton would likely feature as DH, and they are optimistic that Judge will be ready for the start of the regular season. Ideally, Judge will start in right field and Aaron Hicks in center field, leaving left for Fraser or Brett Gardner to slide into.

New York Yankees: An interview with Yankee center fielder Aaron Hicks

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

With the New York Yankees, most of their Injuries were resolved due to the coronavirus and the delay at the beginning of the season.  The delay has been kind to the Yankees allowing several players to be ready to play at the beginning of the season.  One of those is centerfielder Aaron Hicks. Hicks had Tommy John surgery immediately after the 2019 season.  Because of the delay in the season, he may become the first player to have that surgery and never miss a day of play.

Yesterday Hicks allowed access to him in a Zoom call that allowed the media to ask questions of him.  There were a variety of questions posed. The first thing he was asked is his feelings about what happened to Masahiro Tanaka? Hicks: “it’s tough to see something like that happen, especially in something as simple as a sim game. It’s just one of those things that can happen. Unfortunately, it had to happen to him.”

Meredith Marakovitz pointed out that it had been long time since he had been at the New York Yankees Stadium and asked how are you feeling and where are you post-surgery?  Hicks: “I feel really good, I feel my hitting is going well. Every day I feel stronger and stronger, overall the process has been good.  I’ve been able to throw longer and to throw the ball harder.  She then asked if he would be at 100% on day one?  Hicks:  “Ah a 100%, from what I hear it takes a while, but I feel really good and ready to compete.”

The New York Yankee centerfield was then asked is there a benchmark that will tell you when you are at 100%?  Hicks: “I’m looking for more to able to throw with greater velocity, you know right now some balls come out, but there’s inconsistency, with Tommy John there is just some days it doesn’t come out (with the velocity you want). From what I hear this is normal in the process, you just try to grind it out.”

He was asked if he had any sense or response to what’s been going on around the county with the protests? Hicks: “As far as the protests and stuff like that, I mean, I feel it’s a strong movement right now and it’s something I definitely want to be involved with.  This is something I’ve been going through in my life and black players but has been going unnoticed, so it’s something I want to be involved in. I’ve been out more in the black community to try to help black people out in general.”

Another question involved how he felt adjusting to the new normal, wearing a mask and stuff, has it impacted you at all? Hicks: “It takes getting used to, you have to wear a mask inside, and it’s hard on the field because you’re used to engaging in conversations and everything like that, and we are being told to keep our distance. But we understand what’s at stake here as a team. As long as we are safe I believe it will work.”

In a final question, he was asked what responsibility team members have for each other during this pandemic? Hicks: We can step up in regard to what someone is doing.  You know if you feel somebody is playing with the lines. It’s important to our team, we all need to be accountable for what we are doing on and off the field.  I just think if we hold each other accountable we’ll be fine.  We need to win a championship and for everybody to be healthy.”

Some quotes were edited for clarity and length.

 

 

 

 

Yankees give glorious injury update on Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees could gain back Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks for the regular season:

With the MLB and PA finally agreeing to a 60-game regular season, baseball is on the comeback trail. The New York Yankees will be favorites to land a playoff spot in such a short campaign, and they have several players returning from injury to aid the cause.

While Luis Severino will miss the remainder of the season, the expectation is that Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and James Paxton will be ready to go in the coming weeks. The last update on Judge stated that he was having trouble returning to form, following a stress fracture in a rib suffered last September on a diving catch.

Since then, he has struggled to begin working out again, but reports have indicated he could be ready for a late July opening day. Judge still wasn’t swinging a bat in late May following spring training, but the good news is he hasn’t suffered any setbacks over the past few weeks of quarantine and rehabilitation.

“It’s been tough,’’ Thames said of Judge not being able to swing as he recovers from the fractured rib that sidelined him this spring and likely happened last September diving for a ball. “He really wants to get going. [We’re] just trying to stay safe. When the doctors let him, [we’ll] turn him loose. He’ll be ready. He’s chomping at the bit to get out there and start working hard on his swing.”

Hicks, on the other hand, is doing exceptionally well as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

“I would be ready to play,’’ Hicks told The New York Post a few days ago. “The plan was July to see where I am at and ready to play games. For me, I want to be back to the arm strength I had before.’’

“I am doing really well. I am up to 160 feet throwing, taking BP on the field and doing defensive work. I get better and better [throwing] every day and every week. The throwing gets stronger. It is definitely coming. It comes in its own ways when it wants to. I am not too far off. I will throw to bases coming up here pretty soon, think next week. My arm feels great.’’

Having both Judge and Hicks back in action would be excellent news for a Yankees team that desperately needs a healthy outfield. While players like Clint Frazier might suffer due to the return, a shortened season will give the Yankees a fantastic opportunity to walk away with a potential World Series trophy — the first in over a decade.

New York Yankees: Aaron Hicks will be ‘ready to play’ in a 2020 MLB season

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

If a 2020 Major League Baseball season takes place, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks will be a go.

Hicks told George A. King III of the New York Post that he’d be “ready to play” if an MLB season were to begin in July.

“I would be ready to play,’’ Hicks told The Post by phone from Tampa, where he has been hitting and throwing at George M. Steinbrenner Field for the past few weeks. “The plan was July to see where I am at and ready to play games. For me, I want to be back to the arm strength I had before.’’

Hicks was limited to 59 games last season due to injury and underwent Tommy John surgery in the offseason. The outfielder says his health is improving.

“I am doing really well. I am up to 160 feet throwing, taking BP on the field and doing defensive work. I get better and better [throwing] every day and every week. The throwing gets stronger. It is definitely coming. It comes in its own ways when it wants to. I am not too far off. I will throw to bases coming up here pretty soon, think next week. My arm feels great.’’

Hicks realizes the urgency in being an everyday starter in a shortened season.

“As a starter you have to know that you are going to have to play every single game because there is no time. Anything can happen in a 60-game season.”

Hicks has no regrets about returning to the Yankees late season, prior to having surgery.

“I had a feeling that I was going to have to get surgery so I don’t regret it at all. I felt like the decision I made was for my team. I feel like my team is stronger with me in the outfield.”

Hicks is entering the first year of a seven-year, $70 million contract. Prior to an injury-riddled 2019 campaign, the switch-hitting Hicks totaled 27 home runs and 79 RBIs while posting an .833 OPS and a 127 OPS+ in 2018.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Aaron Hicks ready to make an impact?

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees other Aaron is Aaron Michael Hicks, the Yankees centerfielder. Hick was born on October 2, 1989, in San Padro, California.  Hicks played baseball as a child and for Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California.  He ranked No. 72 among Top 100 Prospects by MLB.com entering the 2012 season. Ranked as the fourth-best prospect, best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm in the Minnesota Twins’ system by Baseball America following the 2011 season. … Selected by the Twins in the first round (14th overall) of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Hicks stayed in the Twins system for five years until he made his major league debut on April Fools Day 2013.  He was the starting centerfielder for the Twins.  He did not impress and was sent down to AAA on August first.  But despite his underwhelming 2013 performance at the plate, he was back up in the majors in 2014 due to his excellent outfield defense. However, his battles at the plate continued, and he was again sent down, this time to AA.  2015 would show a dramatic improvement hitting .256 with eleven home runs and 33 RBIs in 97 games.

After the 2015 season, Hicks was traded to the New York Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy.  The Yankees citing an aging Brett Gardner wanted Hicks due to his excellent defense and better than average throwing arm.  The Yankees wanted Hicks for his switch-hitting ability, something the Yankees were sorely lacking.

In Aaron Hicks, four years with the Yankees, they have not been able to consistently enjoy his abilities in centerfield or at the plate.  During his time back and forth between the Stadium, Trenton, and Scranton Wilkes/Barre, he has shown signs of power behind the plate and excellence in a cannon of an arm in the outfield.

The main obstacle to Hicks showing his stuff is his injury history.  After an injury-plagued 2017 season when he hit .266, he started the 2018 season on the IL with a right Intercostal Muscle Strain. In 2018 he played in 133 games after being reinstated from the DL on April 12 and hit an inside-the-park home run against the Detroit Tigers on the next day. Hicks would hit another inside-the-park-home run against the Kansas City Royals on May 19, becoming the first Yankee since Mickey Mantle in 1958 to hit two inside-the-park home runs in a single season. On July 1, Hicks hit three home runs in one game against the Boston Red Sox which endeared him to Yankee fans. Hicks ended the season with 27 home runs, 79 RBIs, and 119 hits, all career highs.

2019 would be another season marked by three injuries, both back and elbow problems. Those injuries caused him to play in only 59 games.  The elbow became the main issue that caused him to have Tommy John Surgery immediately after the season concluded.  The Yankees decision to keep Brett Gardner on the team reaped its rewards as Gardner had a career year. The absence of Hicks did not hurt the team as a whole, Although his switch-hitting was missed in the lineup.

Hicks was initially expected to be out rehabbing for as long as 10 months following the surgery.  However, his better than expected rehab and with the season delayed, he will apparently miss little or no time. Recently New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has said:

“hes on track, it’s going well. Referring to Didi Gregorius’s surgery, he was back in June, so I would say June or July.  The point is that it is what it is and he is on track and it’s healing and going to plan.”

During the offseason of 2018/2019, the Yankees signed Hicks to a seven-year $70MM contract extension.  Even in this shortened season, if there is one, the Yankees need Hicks to recover well and perform well.  They do have Brett Gardner for another season as he signed a one year deal with a 2021 option.  They did this as they need a back up if things don’t go well for Hicks upon his return.  Hicks has been quiet regarding his rehab on his Twitter account.

In a Zoom call recently, New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said Hicks will be back in center field in 2020 if he doesn’t encounter any setbacks.

“I think him playing center field for the New York Yankees this summer is a legit option, as expected,” Cashman said, as noted by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, one of the reporters listening in on the call. “His timeframe is currently going as planned. We’re excited to get him back, because I think he’s one of the better center fielders in the game, both offensively and defensively.”

Like many New York Yankee players, Hick is pretty tight-lipped about his personal life.  We do know that he is supposedly unmarried, but has been going out with a beauty named Jessica Knoles for some time.  There are unconfirmed rumors that they may have been married and had a child together. Photos on the Internet seem to confirm that.

 

Major League Baseball and the injustices against African Americans, a voice is needed

As a fan of the New York Yankees and MLB in general, over the years, I have often wondered why there are so few African American players.  This is a sensitive question, and an old, somewhat privileged white man is probably the last person who should address this question, but I feel compelled to at least start a discussion on the subject.  When I say privileged, what I mean is I am white in a culture that celebrates white men and women, and often looks at other skins as out of the mainstream and suspect.

I don’t begin to suggest that I fully know what a black, Latino, or yellow-skinned person goes through daily just because of the color of their skin. I am a retired business owner that has employed people from all walks of life.  I don’t have a lot of black friends as I have never lived in an inner-city situation.  But I have one black male friend in particular that I have been close to for over thirty years.  In recent years we have had some profound conversations as to what it is like to be black. I only point this out to say I may have some knowledge some may not have.

Getting back to MLB, I remember discovering when I was much younger that there was a Negro league and there were famous players like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Gus Greenlee.  During the Golden Age of black ball(1920-1950), the Negro leagues had as many as seven leagues that primarily hired black players and, to a lesser degree, Latins.

Those leagues deteriorated little by little for three reasons.  One, World War II took a disproportionate amount of young blacks out of baseball, leaving mostly older players.  Lack of fans in the stands and the eventual integration of black players like Jackie Robinson into the major leagues. Black owners also found out that selling their best players to the majors was financially lucrative, so for these and other reasons, the Negro Leagues disappeared into oblivion.

When integration in  MLB started, it was slow as teams like the New York Yankees looked for black talent that was acceptable to fans.  Players like Elston Howard who was nice, quiet, and a gentleman. It gained him complete acceptance from every Yankee.  That’s because he was black, yes, but white-like.  Many black players at the time had to stay in different hotels than the white players, but the Yankees upon hiring Howard would only use hotels that allowed blacks.

Because Howard was fully accepted, he would go on to play twelve seasons with the Yankees. He was an All-Star 12 times, a Gold Glove Award winner twice, an MVP nominee five times winning the MVP award once. On August 3rd, 1967, Elston was traded to the Red Sox. He played a year and a half with the Sox before retiring. But before retiring, he would get to play his last World Series in his home town St. Louis. However, the Cards would beat the Sox. For a black player, Howard retired quite wealthy as he had loads of endorsements later in his career.

With the acceptance of MLB black players, their numbers grew steadily from the 50s to the 80s. Still, then something happened, and their numbers declined to a point that there are practically no black players in the Major Leagues (62), while the Latinos took their place to the point there are as many Latinos as whites in the game.  There are two significant reasons for this.  South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean area have cultures that foster sports.

Why so few Blacks in American baseball? One of the factors appears to be the overall decline in youth playing baseball. In 2002, nine million kids between the ages of 7 and 17 played baseball, as reported in a 2015 Wall Street Journal article citing National Sporting Goods Association figures. That figure had declined by 41% by 2013. With participation in decline, youth leagues and teams have been forced to shut down or merge, which restricts access for poorer youths, making the sport whiter and more affluent.  Another reason is that inner-city kids, mostly black, have no place to nurture their talents.

When you look at different MLB teams, the lack of black players is alarming.  The Oakland Athletics have the most with four.  The New York Yankees with the retirement of CC Sabathia and the exit of Cameron Maybin now only have one, Aaron Hicks, and the multi-cultural Aaron Judge.  The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres have no black players at all, while the remaining teams have one or two.  CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, and some other black players are working to change this by enhancing the ability for inner-city kids to play ball by providing fields and equipment.

Baseball as a whole does not encourage players to take political stands or deal with controversial subjects that are more accepted in other sports.  As an example, many football players took a knee to show solidarity with those reacting to social injustice.  Only one MLB player took a knee (Oakland’s Bruce Maxwell), and he is no longer in baseball.  Baseball is only focused on winning, and discourse is generally not accepted, making it difficult for black players to speak out on the present national protests over injustices blacks suffer at the hands of police.  You would expect outrage by black players over the recent deaths on unarmed black men, but it just doesn’t happen for the most part.

Ken Rosenthal and Doug Glanville of the Athletic recently have had conversations with retired players. The latter are freer to express their feelings without the fear of rejection or retaliation for their families. Even the most prominent African American baseball stars rarely speak out on sensitive matters during their playing careers. The sport’s culture discourages individuality in any form, and a player who publicly addresses racism often faces a backlash.

A five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, Adam Jones was the Orioles’ 2016 Roberto Clemente Award nominee. The award recognizes a player “who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field,” according to Major League Baseball. Regardless when Jones spoke out against racial injustice in 2017, he was subjected to having peanuts thrown at him and being called the “N” word throughout a game at Fenway Park in Boston.

“I just go out and play baseball,” Jones said. “It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family.”

Once out of the spotlight, former MLB players are more inclined to speak out against injustice as the Athletic reporters found out.  The Zoom conversations included:

Glanville, a nine-year major-league veteran who works for a variety of media outlets in addition to The Athletic and serves both on the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) and Connecticut State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Jimmy Rollins, a three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, and former National League MVP who now works as a studio analyst for TBS and broadcaster for the Phillies.

Ryan Howard, a three-time All-Star and former NL MVP and Rookie of the Year who spent last season as a studio analyst for ESPN before leaving to focus on his business endeavors, including his sports investment firm, SeventySix Capital.

Dontrelle Willis, a two-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year who works as a studio analyst for Fox Sports.

Torii Hunter, a five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner who works as a special assistant to baseball operations for the Twins.

LaTroy Hawkins, a 21-year major leaguer who works as a special assistant to baseball operations for the Twins.

This is dramatically edited and with only summaries some of the comments here.  If you want the whole discussion go here.

Jimmy Rollins started by saying:

“Obviously, we’ve all been there. It’s just the culture of baseball. It’s not a clubhouse or a home where you’re actually very comfortable walking in saying those things or bringing up those things outside of your little group, three or four guys you can talk about it within the clubhouse or on the field during stretching. It really doesn’t leave that group.”

“As a player, you’re always trying to keep that clubhouse even-keeled and focused on the game. But there are plenty of times you’re going out there with something else on your mind. And having a couple of guys on the team is always good so that you can bounce that off them, so you don’t have to let it explode throughout the clubhouse if somebody does something that rubs you the wrong way.”

Dontrelle Willis added: I agree with you, J-Roll. For me, Jackie Robinson definitely set the tone as far as how to behave through racial adversity. One, because you don’t want to ruin the situation for the next person, for your kids. You don’t want to ruin the chance for someone to play at the highest level.

We’re always taught as a culture to be the bigger person. Have class. Understand the situation, not just for yourself. I always tried to be the bigger person, be a captain, be a leader. But now as I have children growing up and have seen all these things, I have more of a responsibility to myself and to my family to really teach them what’s going on in the real world, so they can have the tools and strength to live the best life they can.

As I said, this is just a smidge of the comments, but all the players interviewed in the Zoom conversation echoed the same feelings.  White players don’t have to deal with this, whereas blacks deal with fear to some degree on the field and in their everyday life, just walking down the street. Until our culture changes and realizes we are all humans, maybe of different colors and from various societies, but all the same, with the same needs of acceptance, little will change.

In my lifetime, I have seen great change, but for those that have their air cut off by a kneeling knee, that change is not fast enough.  We need leaders that will tackle the big problems and stop injustice due to differences in skin color.  We can no longer turn a blind eye to racism in America.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.  Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.