More on Adam Jones and free speech, and other Orioles notes

BOSTON — Orioles center fielder Adam Jones' words carry a lot of weight, not only inside his own clubhouse, but throughout a game in which he is one of the most high-profile and successful African-American players.

Most people aren't able to see how Jones keeps it light and loose inside the Orioles clubhouse, expertly toeing the line of taking the game seriously and keeping it fun. He's the unquestioned leader of the Orioles.


But when given the opportunity to give his opinion – he often shares what he believes freely – Jones didn't hesitate to express his feelings on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of not standing for the national anthem to bring light to racial injustices in this country.

Most picked up and grabbed the headline of the USA Today story published Monday quoting Jones saying that baseball was a "white man's game" as he pointed to the large discrepancy of African-American players in the majors. African-Americans made up just 8 percent of major league Opening Day rosters this season, and because of that, Jones said the numbers just aren't there to have a protest on similar pace at the one Kaepernick has started in the NFL.


But Jones' true message was to defend Kaepernick's right to stand up for his First Amendment right. No one can question Jones' commitment to the community and doing his part. He's worked closely with kids in Baltimore's inner city for years, helping to rebuild their communities not only by donating money to local Boys and Girls clubs, but by giving those children a role model.

And Jones didn't shy away from  his statements to USA Today. He owned up to his comments. He said he meant everything he said. But there was still one big gap to his comments, whether he's ever  considered not standing for the anthem himself. So I asked that question.

His answer was – very much like all things Adam Jones – unfiltered. He didn't hesitate in expressing that he would never considering not standing for the anthem, that his father and brother both served in the military (Jones grew up in one of the country's most military-entrenched cities of San Diego) and to him – as an American – the flag and the anthem represent something he respects.

So while Jones will undoubtedly receive pushback for his comments – and part of his stand for free speech is accepting the criticism from others – Jones was merely bringing to light the notion that in this country, everyone has the right to speak their mind.

"We have to just live under an umbrella because we're in the spotlight and that educates us which people don't want to hear us talk about," Jones said. "[People say], 'You're just an entertainer.' We get all that, but at the same time, we understand what's going on, especially in the world.

"Sometimes we just need to talk about it. We're the ones people listen to. We're the ones people bet on all the time. This was the right opportunity. I knew I'm going to get backlash from it. That's just part of it whenever you speak up, but at the end of the day, if more conversations are being started, I'm happy about it."

However, baseball does have its share of players who have taken stands for what they believe in by using forms of protest.

In 2004, former Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado refused to stand for the playing of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch of games in order to show his opposition to the war in Iraq.

Delgado's protest wasn't a fleeting one. The Puerto Rico native had long opposed the U.S. Navy using the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a weapons testing ground for six decades.

He received plenty of heat for his protest, especially in New York, where "God Bless America" became a post-9/11 rallying cry and anthem of unity.

''It takes a man to stand up for what he believes,'' Delgado told the New York Times during his protest. ''Especially in a society where everything is supposed to be politically correct. … I am not pro-war; I'm anti-war. I'm for peace.''

Also, in the 1980s, Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker and outfielder Chet Lemon both chose not to stand for the national anthem because they were Jehovah's Witnesses.


"… You have to think about what's being said [in the anthem] -- rockets' red glare, bombs bursting in air?" Lemon told the Detroit Free Press in 1987. "We do not believe in nor do we salute war. And for all practical purposes, I'm not the only player to not to salute the flags. Others all over America don't do it for different reasons, and a lot of them don't understand why and don't understand why we don't, either."

More on Miley

Back to baseball.

The Boston Red Sox lineup isn't a good matchup for anyone. The Red Sox lead baseball with a .287 batting average and an .822 OPS (on-base plus slugging), and they aren't a discerning group, hitting left-handed pitchers just as well as (.284, .809) as right-handers (.288, .826).

Left-hander Wade Miley went into his first career start against the Red Sox – for whom he had pitched for last season – looking to attack the strike zone against a Boston batting order known to work deep counts.

But the Red Sox came out swinging. Four pitches into the game, Miley had already loaded the bases after three straight singles. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, two of Boston's most patient hitters (they each average 3.94 pitches seen per plate appearance, most on the team), jumped on first-pitch deliveries from Miley.

Nine pitches into the game, Miley trailed 2-0 on Mookie Betts' double. Hanley Ramirez's RBI single came on the second pitch and from there the Orioles' left-hander found himself on the wrong side of a snowballing inning.

"I thought I had a pretty good game plan going in but obviously not," Miley said. "Obviously a pretty good team over there. They swing the bats pretty well, so they got me."

Following up on Pearce

Left fielder Steve Pearce felt discomfort in his right forearm after making a throw to second in the first inning of Monday's loss, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, and today will be a big day in seeing whether Pearce will again be limited in the outfield.

"He had a stinger there on one of the throws," Showalter said. "He's been doing so well with that forearm issue. We'll see how he is tomorrow…It bit him a little on that first throw to second. He's been doing so well with it lately. It's kind of disappointing that it hit him again."

Pearce still remained in Monday's game before he was replaced by Hyun Soo Kim in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Pearce suffered a flexor mass strain in his right forearm in early August and received a cortisone injection to accelerate the recovery. He was able to play first base and DH initially, but needed time for his arm to rest in order to make throws from the outfield.

He's made seven of his was last eight starts in the outfield, so the team has been confident that Pearce can make those throws without further injury. No player is at 100 percent this time of the season, but the fact that Pearce reaggravated the injury is something to monitor.


"Kind of tweaked it a little bit so, we will see how it feels tomorrow," Pearce said.


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