While the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied behind Mookie Betts for a universal decision to not play Wednesday night, he told teammates they were free to move ahead with facing the San Francisco Giants if they felt that was in their best interest.
“I talked to these guys and I was fully on board if they played. I’m going to be their brother, be the first one on the steps cheering them on, but in my shoes I couldn’t play,” Betts said as he stood by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen.
With the Dodgers and Giants making a joint decision to boycott, the postponed game was reschedule for a doubleheader on Thursday. The Dodgers’ initial lineup for Game 1 did not include Betts, though an updated version had him starting in right field and leading off.
“In talking to Mookie last night, he didn’t plan on playing today,” Roberts said before first pitch at Oracle Park. “Regardless of the doubleheader, he wasn’t going to play. Felt that he wanted to continue to stand firm on his position, which I absolutely respect and support.
“But in talking to him about an hour ago, talking to the Players Alliance and Black players around the league, they came to a consensus they can use their platform more by playing. Also, the fact that their white teammates stood beside them in not playing.
“Acknowledging that and continuing to stay unified and play, stay in lockstep with their teammates, was very important. Which I absolutely agree with and support as well, with the idea that continued conversations and solutions on how we can make life better for Black people, Black kids, everyone.”
Roberts had also planned to sit out Wednesday, but said he will manage both games of the doubleheader. He anticipated Dodgers first base coach George Lombard and strength and conditioning coach Travis Smith to be active as well.
Kershaw wants to make impact
Kershaw has been among the more vocal members of the Dodgers organization in needing to be more proactive in the fight against systemic racism and social injustice. Kershaw went so far as to blame himself for not doing enough.
In standing with Betts, Jansen and Roberts, the longtime Dodgers ace reiterated his commitment to making a difference.
“More than anything, as a teammate of Mookie’s, as a member of this team with Doc, George, Travis, Kenley and all these guys, as a white player on this team, it’s how can we show support?” Kershaw said.
“What’s something tangible we can do to help our Black brothers on this team? Once Mookie said he wasn’t going to play, that really started our conversation as a team on what we can do to support that.”
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