The Red Sox will include a social justice component as part of the ceremony before Friday night’s season opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.
Team officials, including chairman Tom Werner and CEO Sam Kennedy, met with the players on Tuesday to discuss their participation in the ceremony.
The team also promised to fully support any player who chooses to take a knee during the national anthem. Manager Ron Roenicke doesn’t believe any player intends to do that.
“We haven’t told players you have to do anything. We have given them the right, which is what this country is all about, and the freedoms to do what they feel strongly about,” he said.
Tuesday’s meeting, held via video conferencing, also included chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler and several of his players, including Mike Yastrzemski, took a knee before their exhibition game against Oakland on Monday night, as did Angels pitcher Keynan Middleton before a game against the Padres.
No Red Sox or Blue Jays player knelt before Tuesday’s exhibition game.
The Red Sox posted “Black Lives Matter” on the Fenway Park scoreboard on June 2 as protests were raging in Boston and other cities across the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
The team followed that up with a statement from Kennedy that said, in part, “Silence in the face of injustice is unacceptable.”
Discussions with the players, mostly informal, have happened regularly since.
“We’re all supportive of what the fight is about. We’re all supportive of that,” Roenicke said.
“By making sure they know we feel — whether it’s John [Henry] and Tom or Sam or Chaim, they’ve all said the same thing: That we’re supporting the BLM and we’re going to do what we need to do here to make sure that the players know we support whatever they do.”
Several participants in the meeting said the Sox players were on board with the team’s plans for Friday.
“We have said what we think and what we’d like them to do. But we also want to give them the opportunity to express themselves,” Roenicke said.
Lefthanded reliever Darwinzon Hernandez rejoined the team after being cleared of coronavirus and threw in the bullpen before the game.
Hernandez will open the season on the injured list. The hope is he won’t need long to be ready.
“We need to see where he’s at,” Roenicke said. “He had been throwing, but we really don’t know how much. We know how important it is to get these guys back, but we have to do it the right way.”
Hernandez, Bobby Dalbec, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Josh Taylor missed time after testing positive and have since returned.
The Sox obtained 28-year-old righthander Dylan Covey from the Rays and added him to their player pool.
The price was reasonable, as Tampa Bay received nothing in return.
Covey’s minor league contract included an assignment clause requiring the Rays to offer him to any team with a spot open if he was not going to make their team. The Sox claimed him.
Covey will report to Fenway Park and the Sox will determine his status from there.
Covey made 63 appearances, 45 of them starts, with the White Sox from 2017-19. He was 6-29 with a 6.54 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.
Since 2017, Covey has the highest ERA in the majors among the 193 pitchers with at least 200 innings.
One of the best starts of his career was against the Red Sox on June 8, 2018, at Fenway, when he threw six shutouts innings to beat Chris Sale.
Roenicke was managing Milwaukee when Covey was their first-round pick in 2010 and didn’t sign. He said the Sox plan to look at him as a long reliever and spot starter.
To make room for Covey in the 60-player pool this season, lefthander Bobby Poyner was removed. He remains in the organization and is eligible to return to the pool later this season.
Orioles shift plans
Baltimore scratched lefthander John Means [arm fatigue] for Friday’s game. Another lefthander, Tommy Milone, will take his place against Nate Eovaldi. Milone was 4-10 with a 4.76 ERA for the Mariners last season. He has not faced the Red Sox since 2016 and is 0-3 with a 9.33 ERA in four career games at Fenway Park … J.D. Martinez hit second and was 1 for 3 with a walk and two-run homer. Roenicke said he’d consider that spot for Martinez during the season because it would make it tougher for opponents to bring in a lefty to face Andrew Benintendi. Martinez has not his second since 2016 when he did it 33 times for Detroit … Social distancing is impossible in the small visitors’ clubhouse at Fenway. The Red Sox used the concourse on the third base side to create more locker space for the Blue Jays. That will be their plan for the entire season … Tuesday was the first exhibition game the Sox played at Fenway since Sept. 4, 1986, when they hosted the Mets for a charity game benefiting the Jimmy Fund … The Sox added righthanded reliever Domingo Tapia to the roster for the two games against the Jays.