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'United for change': Rangers speak out

@Sullivan_Ranger
July 24, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers want their fans, the community and the baseball world to know that they are “united for change.” That’s why players, members of the coaching staff and manager Chris Woodward joined together to make a video addressing the issue of racial injustice in the country, how the

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers want their fans, the community and the baseball world to know that they are “united for change.”

That’s why players, members of the coaching staff and manager Chris Woodward joined together to make a video addressing the issue of racial injustice in the country, how the Rangers feel about it and what they can do to help bring about change.

The decision to make the video was finalized Wednesday, but was really the result of multiple conversations that have taken place beginning in the offseason and became more frequent as the Rangers came together for Summer Camp.

“We had four team meetings in six days,” pitcher Kyle Gibson said. “We wanted to make sure all our teammates were heard, and their opinions mattered.”

Gibson said it was important that the Rangers talk about the issues openly. They have five members of the organization who are African-American and were part of Summer Camp: outfielder Willie Calhoun and left-hander Taylor Hearn, coaches Tony Beasley and Callix Crabbe and director of peak performance Dr. Josiah Igono.

Gibson said the Rangers didn’t want to shy away from the issues just because it might “ruffle some feathers.”

Instead, the Rangers wore patches and T-shirts during batting practice that expressed their feelings about racism and social justice. One T-shirt showed eight hands of different colors holding a bat. A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. and shared by Hearn was on the back: “Darkness cannot drive out the darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

Hearn told his teammates the quote symbolizes how he wants to live his life and have an impact on his community.

“Nobody was forced to be in it,” Gibson said. “It was pretty cool to see how the team rallied around Willie and Taylor and Crabbe and Beas and teammates of color, but the respect they showed for each other. It’s a tough conversation.

“I don’t know how many people want to sit down and have that conversation, but we are interested in being part of the solution. We don’t want this to be an Opening Day thing, we want to continue this going forward and see if this team can be a part of real change.”

General manager Jon Daniels said the video and the T-shirts were driven entirely by the players.

“I think the players wanted to make sure that they were able to express why they were doing what they're choosing to do,” Daniels said. “Because so much of it can be perception, right? So, I think the video was the players wanted to reach out to the fans and explain their thought process.

“As far as action, we've had some other conversations in the organization. Some big, some small, that are similarly driven. What are some actionable steps we can do to raise awareness and ultimately make an impact in our community, and I think we'll continue to work on those. But I would argue that one of the bigger things we can do is just continue to have these conversations.”

After the ceremonial introductions prior to the game, members of both teams took hold of a 200-yard black ribbon as a show of unity. When country music legend Charley Pride sang The Star-Spangled Banner, the only player to take a knee was Rockies outfielder Matt Kemp.

Rangers beat
• The Rangers are going to skip fifth starter Jordan Lyles early in the schedule. Instead of Lyles pitching the fifth game of the season on Wednesday against the D-backs, he will start the eighth on Aug. 2 against the Giants. The Rangers have three off-days in the first 11 days of the season and this will allow the top three starters -- Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and Corey Kluber -- to stay on or close to their regular schedule.

• Left-hander Brett Martin threw live batting practice on Friday. He will do so again on Monday, and then the Rangers will determine how close he is to being Major League ready.

• Right-hander Rafael Montero threw a bullpen session on Thursday and pitching coach Julio Rangel said he looked really good. Rangel said Montero still needs about four to five more bullpen and live batting practice sessions before he is ready to join the Rangers' bullpen.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.