ANAHEIM — As the national anthem echoed through an empty Angel Stadium on Friday evening, 14 players stood in center field, with their arms locked, wearing different uniforms but the same number, and representing the same idea.
The Angels were off on Wednesday and Thursday, so their players did not have the opportunity to make the statement that so many others chose: sitting out a game in protest of inequality in the United States.
On Friday, when they returned to the field on the day that Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson, their statement was simple.
The Angels’ four Black players — Justin Upton, Brian Goodwin, Keynan Middleton and Jo Adell — took the field along with the seven Black players from the Seattle Mariners. They were joined by Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and David Fletcher.
All wore No. 42, as is the tradition on the day MLB honors Jackie Robinson. Normally, that celebration occurs in April, on the anniversary of the day Robinson made his major league debut. Because there were no baseball games in April, the celebration occurred this year on the anniversary of Robinson’s first meeting with Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey.
The date arrived just as the country was feeling the sting of yet another spark of outrage, following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
A few hours before Friday’s game, Manager Joe Maddon said he was happy to see players becoming active in social issues.
“They’re letting their voice be heard, and I love all of that,” Maddon said. “I am so proud to be a part of that. And not only within our group here, but within the entire industry and beyond. I’m glad that our guys are participating. It’s good for them. It’s good for us, as an organization, as an industry, so it’s about time that things have rolled in that direction. I’m very proud of our guys.”
Upton and Goodwin are members of The Players Alliance, an organization of Black baseball players dedicated to addressing inequality.
The Angels sent down struggling starter Patrick Sandoval, leaving questions about the rotation beyond this weekend.
The Angels are scheduled to have Dylan Bundy start on Saturday and Griffin Canning on Sunday, with Monday undecided and an off day on Tuesday.
Jaime Barria, who would be eligible to be recalled to start, and Julio Teheran, are both candidates to start on Monday, Maddon said.
Sandoval has allowed 17 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings in five starts, and he is still looking for his first major league victory after 15 outings.
“We just want him to go down there and work on a couple things,” Maddon said. “That’s it. No more complicated than that.”
The Angels also sent down Luis Rengifo, who was hitting .157 with a .519 OPS in 60 plate appearances. The Angels had minimal playing time available for him with the return of Andrelton Simmons.
Filling the roster spots, the Angels recalled Jared Walsh and lefty reliever Jose Quijada. Walsh will serve as a pinch-hitter and back up at first base.
Catcher Max Stassi, who was placed on the injured list last week with a knee contusion and strained quad, is “moving better than we anticipated already,” Maddon said on Friday. The initial timeline for Stassi’s recovery was two to three weeks.
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Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, MLB
World news – US – Angels and Mariners lock arms in show of support on Jackie Robinson Day
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