Jackie Robinson’s legacy as an advocate for civil rights, equality and justice continues to inspire Giants manager Gabe Kapler.
“There's a photograph circulating of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson together, and I think one of the things that we forget is that athletes historically have also been activists,” said Kapler, who wore a Black Lives Matter shirt during his pregame media session Friday. “I've had some conversations with players recently about Muhammad Ali and the impact he had outside of the ring. Jackie Robinson's impact outside of the lines just can't be measured.”
Major League Baseball chose to celebrate this year's Jackie Robinson Day on Aug. 28 for two reasons. It’s the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson Family attended, and it also is the date in 1945 when Robinson and Branch Rickey met to discuss his future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In conjunction with the celebration, MLB announced a partnership extension with the JRF Scholarship Program, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the annual JRF ROBIE Awards. The extension is through 2023 and includes a $3.5 million commitment on behalf of MLB.
Additionally, all on-field personnel were fitted with Robinson’s iconic “42” on their sleeves and caps for Friday’s games, as well as donning the No. 42 on the backs of their jerseys.
“I can tell you that walking into the clubhouse today and into the manager's office, seeing the ‘42’ hanging in my locker, knowing that I have one on the side of the cap, the Jackie Robinson emblem on my hat, makes me really proud to be a part of Major League Baseball right now,” Kapler said. “I think the fact that we honor him every year makes me proud to be in baseball, and just taking that a step further, I think we can do even more as an industry and as a country to honor the work that Jackie did.”
On Wednesday, the Giants and Dodgers stood in solidarity with fellow MLB teams, deciding not to play at Oracle Park to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Before Friday’s game, Kapler announced that he was donating his day’s salary in support of The Players Alliance, a group of more than 100 Black current and former professional baseball players created to improve opportunities in the Black community on and off the field.
“I think The Players Alliance is doing an outstanding job of not just speaking up, but making a difference in the community and fighting systemic racism and promoting racial equality,” Kapler said. “I know a lot of the members of The Players Alliance and I trust that the work that they're doing is going to make a difference, and I just want to be a supportive partner.”
Additions to player pool
Right-hander Melvin Adon and outfielder Chris Shaw have been added to the Giants' 60-man player pool and have reported to the alternate training site. The pair has been cleared to join workouts.
“I think one thing that's clear is that left-handed bats are valuable right now, and certainly, Chris has a history of hitting homers and I know how hard he's been working on his swing recently,” Kapler said. “And we all know about Melvin Adon's arm’s strength. We just wanted to get a closer look at those two guys and get them to our alternate site to evaluate.”
• Left-hander Drew Smyly remains sidelined with a left index finger sprain, but he is making progress in his throwing program. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session this weekend.
• Right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who is dealing with right shoulder inflammation, is on track to throw his second bullpen session in his recovery this weekend.
• Right-hander Reyes Moronta, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, is throwing bullpen sessions twice a week in Sacramento and could throw batting practice next week.
• Outfielder Austin Slater, who has been slowed by a right elbow flexor strain and a mild left groin strain, has started his hitting program and continues his throwing progression. He is expected to ramp up baseball activities next week.
• Catcher Aramis Garcia continues to rehab his right hip labrum and is making progress. He is also expected to increase baseball activity next week.