CHICAGO — Twins reliever Trevor May watched as protests over racial inequality took place outside his window in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Knowing baseball was coming back soon, he decided participating might not be “the smartest move to make” with the potential of COVID-19 risks.
There was shame and guilt attached to that decision, he said, and it was important to May, who had heard a quote from Tigers outfielder Cameron Maybin about looking for allies, to show that he was one. May aimed to do that Friday night when he knelt during the the national anthem.
“That was my way of saying, ‘I’m here. I’m at your disposal. I recognize your suffering and the things that I’ll never have context for, no matter how much I try. But I’m going to just continue trying,’ ” May said. “I want to get to a point where in this country, we feel like the people directly affected by this system and these policies, they feel like they don’t need to kneel anymore. I think I have a role to play in that. I think that everyone has a role to play in that.”
May, along with teammates Byron Buxton, LaMonte Wade Jr., Aaron Whitefield, Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo and Tyler Duffey, and manager Rocco Baldelli and coaches Mike Bell and Tommy Watkins knelt on Friday.
More and more conversations have sprung up within the clubhouse about racial inequalities in the United States, and they’re conversations that May welcomes. He said the fact that everyone is thinking and listening is step one and has been an encouraging and hopeful sign to him.
“We’re living in a time where empathy is sometimes more publicly going by the wayside, but we’re all brothers in this clubhouse, and it’s definitely not by the wayside here. It’s been really eye-opening,” May said. “There’s a lot of things and soul searching that I’ve realized about my life. Most people consider themselves thinking or being a certain way, and to have that shaken is hard. Things that you’ve done in your past that just weren’t OK and you didn’t know at the time, things of that nature, and we’re having those conversations and having those realizations in real time now, and these guys mean a lot to me.”
A quicker ramp-up period and the introduction of the three-batter minimum — relievers must face three batters upon entering the game or finish off an inning — likely will play a big role in how bullpens are deployed this season, especially in the early going.
The Twins used May, Tyler Clippard, Tyler Duffey and Cody Stashak to lock down Friday’s 10-5 Opening Day win, and Zack Littell, Devin Smeltzer and Matt Wisler pitched on Saturday. Twins relievers have been anticipating a slightly heavier workload near the beginning of the season with starting pitchers not fully stretched out, and Baldelli said he wasn’t necessarily opposed to using pitchers in back-to-back games.
“I think we will see some guys going back-to-back games early for us. Will it be every guy? Maybe not initially, especially guys that are maybe going up-and-down and things like that,” Baldelli said. “Then again, it’s going to come down to the individual, because some guys are certainly capable of a lot more than others at this point.”
Rich Hill, who the Twins pushed back from starting on Saturday, threw a bullpen instead, and reports came back positive. The 40-year-old veteran is scheduled to start against the Cardinals on Wednesday night at Target Field against St. Louis righty Miles Mikolas. … Homer Bailey will make his Twins’ debut on Tuesday night for the team’s home opener against Carlos Martinez. … Baldelli said Byron Buxton, who is making his way back from a sprained foot, is aiming to be ready for the home opener, and if he’s not ready by Tuesday, it probably wouldn’t be more than a day or two later than that.