Making the right decision ‘wasn’t necessarily easy’ for the Red Sox

Former San Antonio Missions manager Ron Roenicke has had his hands full in his first season as manager of the Boston Red Sox.

To this point, the Red Sox haven’t quite figured it out on the field, struggling to a 10-21 record. For a franchise that traditionally has been one of baseball’s best over the past two decades, times are tough.

Nevertheless, Roenicke might have enjoyed one of his finest hours in his job Thursday afternoon in Buffalo.

The game between the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays had been called off, postponed as one of 10 in the majors scrapped in the last 44 hours since a wave of protest in professional sports commenced.

The protest has centered on the nation’s latest crisis on race relations, the tragic shooting of an African-American citizen by a police officer in Wisconsin.

“You know, this is a really important time in our country, and what are we going to do?” Roenicke asked. “These (athletes) have a platform to discuss some things that are serious issues … (things) that we need to straighten out.”

Roenicke, a California native, has roots in San Antonio.

He played for the San Antonio Dodgers as a minor league outfielder in 1978 and 1979. He also managed here in the 1990s, leading the 1997 San Antonio Missions to the Texas League title.

His leadership showed up again Thursday in handling a sticky situation that evolved after Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., the team’s only black player, told management that he planned to sit out the Thursday night finale of a three-game series against the Blue Jays.

After Bradley made his intentions clear, the Red Sox engaged in discussions that led to a 4 p.m. team meeting at Sahlen Field, according to a published report at masslive.com.

“It was not an easy decision for a lot of us,” outfielder Kevin Pillar told the website. “We do stand with Jackie and we want to be in support of him, but a lot of us understand that us playing is an escape for a lot of people and the realities going on in the world. It is an opportunity for a lot of people to get away from the news and all the evil and bad that’s going on and be a distraction. This is what we do. It’s our responsibilities as athletes to come to the field and play.

“Ultimately, we came to a decision as a group that it is one game,” Pillar added. “It is a game but the power and impact that we have standing with those guys and their decision hopefully speaks volumes. We all believe we made the right decision even though it wasn’t necessarily an easy one.”

Speaking at the meeting were Bradley and Red Sox coach Tom Goodwin, a former Missions player. Bradley told the players why he planned to sit out and also said he would be OK with everyone if they wanted to play.

Goodwin, who is black, discussed “reasons why it might be prudent” for the Red Sox to play the game as scheduled, according to masslive.com. The Red Sox ultimately decided as a group to support Bradley and not play.

“A lot has been placed on him and that’s important to all of us,” Roenicke told masslive.com. “It’s important to these players, realizing that Jackie is our lone Black player on the team and they want to support him in any way they can. Just supporting in what we did today is telling him, ‘Jack, we’re hearing what you’re saying, we’re hearing what the rest of the guys are saying, we want to make a difference and we want to support you in any way we can.’ ”

In a video produced by the Red Sox, Roenicke encouraged baseball fans to have meaningful conversations about race. At home. At work. He said talks about sensitive issues are important.

“We understand how important baseball is,” Roenicke said. We’re playing through a pandemic. We know it’s all important. But we know the issues in life are more important …

“If you’re a kid and you turn on the TV tonight … and you ask your parents, ‘Why aren’t the Red Sox on?” I hope the parents have a serious discussion with their kid.

“We need to discuss these things more. We need to listen more. That’s the only way we’re going to change,” Roenicke said. “There needs to be a change in this great country that we live in.”

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