OAKLAND -- In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25, Tony Kemp was one of the more active players in the league to speak out against racial injustice. Unsure of how he might be received upon reuniting with teammates
OAKLAND -- In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25, Tony Kemp was one of the more active players in the league to speak out against racial injustice. Unsure of how he might be received upon reuniting with teammates for Summer Camp, Kemp has been overwhelmed by the positive response.
Jake Diekman, Liam Hendriks, Matt Olson and hitting coach Eric Martins were among the teammates and coaches who supported Kemp’s “THE +1 EFFECT” campaign by purchasing the T-shirt he produced along with BreakingT, which sees part of the proceeds go to Campaign Zero, an organization dedicated to decreasing police violence with its #8cantwait initiative.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was also one of the first people in baseball to reach out in support of Kemp.
“Here in California, we’re all about these initiatives and want to lead the way with it,” Melvin said. “I wanted to let him know that I’m absolutely supporting what he’s doing. Sometimes when you’re on a new team, you’re reluctant to get on the forefront. I wanted to let him know I was proud of him for doing it and support everything he does.”
A fairly new player on the A’s after arriving via trade from the Cubs this offseason, Kemp was especially appreciative to learn that his new manager is in his corner.
“That guy is amazing to talk to and he understands the stance,” Kemp said of Melvin. “He actually sent me a text in the middle of the campaign saying it was great to see what I was doing and he couldn’t want to get me on the field soon.”
The support of his teammates also does not go unnoticed by Kemp.
“What has been cool is I’ve only played a couple of games with these guys in Spring Training and it’s cool to see they bought the shirts on their own and support the cause,” Kemp said. “It means a lot that they’ve got my back.”
On the field, Kemp is a leading candidate to get a bulk of the playing time at second base, likely sharing a platoon role with Franklin Barreto. Melvin is still learning more about Kemp’s game on the field, but he’s already pleased with his handling of the position. Given Kemp’s speed and ability to play the outfield as well, Melvin expects to find ways for him to impact the game even on days he’s not in the starting lineup.
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“He’s done a really nice job. I think what I’ve been most surprised about is how well he’s taken to second base,” Melvin said. “He turns a double play better than I expected. Players like that really fit in well here.
“I don’t know what his most at-bats have been in a season, but my guess is if he plays well and gets off to a decent start, we won’t have 162 games, but he’ll be part of the action quite a bit.”
A’s to play two exhibition games vs. Giants
Before the A’s host the Angels at the Coliseum for Opening Day on July 24, they’ll gear up for the regular season with two exhibition games against the Giants on July 20-21. The first game will be played at the Oakland Coliseum at 6:40 p.m. PT while the second game will take place across the Bay in San Francisco with a 6:45 p.m. PT first pitch. Both games will be televised, with the July 20 game on NBC Sports California and the July 21 broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area. The two games can also be heard on A’s Cast.
Jesús Luzardo, Oakland's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, remains away from the club after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Melvin was unable to give specifics on the left-hander, though he has remained in contact with Luzardo and said he is feeling good and is "itching to get back on the field."
Luzardo remains self-isolated at home in the Bay Area. He must test negative for the virus twice before he is allowed to return to the club.
Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.