The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit the White House on Feb. 15, team president Sam Kennedy said Tuesday.
The plan is for the team to travel as a group from its spring training base in Fort Myers, Fla., to Washington and return later that day. It is likely the Sox would also visit the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“We thought an earlier visit rather than waiting until later in the year made the most sense,” Kennedy said.
The government shutdown has “stalled” communications with the White House, Kennedy said. But the Sox have informed players and staff that Feb. 15 is the target date.
The championship Clemson football team visited the White House Monday.
“If we or the White House determine it is inappropriate for us to visit during the shutdown, we will obviously adjust,” Kennedy said.
The trip essentially will coincide with the start of spring training, as pitchers and catchers have their first workout Feb. 13, with position players getting started Feb. 18.
Players and staff members will not be required to attend the event, which also was the case when the Red Sox visited the White House following their World Series title seasons of 2004, 2007, and 2013.
Several players, as yet unidentified, already have said they would not attend.
A visit to the White House, once an innocuous event for championship teams, has become politicized during the Trump presidency. The 2017 Houston Astros visited the White House in March 2018, albeit without Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa. No NBA champion has visited since 2016.
The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles had their invitation rescinded last year when it became apparent that only a small number of players would attend.
“We would expect a healthy representation of ownership, executives, coaches, and players,” Kennedy said. “Everybody is aware of the date.”
Manager Alex Cora, who in September defended his homeland of Puerto Rico after what he felt were “disrespectful” comments by Trump regarding the death toll of Hurricane Maria, is likely to be on the trip.
“I’m planning on attending and using this platform in a positive way for us,” Cora said.