Indians to wear road blue uniforms on Opening Day that read 'Cleveland'

Ryan Lewis
rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com
Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor connects on a solo home run, his second of the game, off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Cincinnati.

CLEVELAND — The Indians open the 2020 season at home, but their uniforms will display the "Cleveland" inscription normally reserved for road games.

In a statement of support for the franchise potentially changing their name, Indians players elected to wear their road blue uniforms against the Royals on Opening Day.

"Today we’re wearing the Cleveland jersey to bring awareness," said Francisco Lindor on a Zoom call. "We hope that’s a start of change. We know change is due and it is time. But I believe positive change can happen. Shining the light on those minorities and people who are in need, it’s extremely important. Today, by wearing the Cleveland jersey, that’s what we’re doing out there, bringing the spotlight on those people, minorities that need the spotlight on them so their voices can be heard. Positive change can happen. We’re due for it."

Indians players wore T-shirts during batting practice that said "End Racism," as did manager Terry Francona and members of the coaching staff. President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti donned a shirt that read "Black Lives Matter."

"So we talked, we had a meeting, players' meeting," Lindor said. "We wanted to do something, we wanted to bring awareness to the world and let everybody know we're on the same page as them, we feel them, we know that these are different times and change is due. And as a team, as the big platform we all have, we are responsible to bring awareness and let the world know we have to end racism. We have a big, big spotlight to be able to bring that awareness to the world. We don't have to go out there and fight, but the non-violent protests like this are huge, to be able to fight the fight without bringing violence and just expressing our feelings, it's a big part of what we do."

The Indians wearing their navy blue road uniforms at home is something that could only be for Opening Day. It hasn't been announced if that will continue beyond Friday.

“My guess is it’s tonight to make a point but there could be on-going conversations," Francona said on Zoom. "Again, there’s ramifications with the league and things like that, too, that [owner Paul Dolan] explained to the players. The players were really good about it. The idea is not to be respectful, the idea is to make a point and I think this is a good way to do it."

Lindor stressed that players have a spotlight and a responsibility to use their platforms.

"And I want to make it clear: This has nothing to do with politics," Lindor said. "Nothing to do with politics. It’s a lifestyle. LeBron said it yesterday: It’s a lifestyle. It has nothing to do with politics. The BLM patches that some of the guys will be wearing tonight, it has nothing to do with politics. Life matters. And black ones right now are in need. Indigenous [people] are in need. Minorities, overall, are in need. We have to go after it. This has nothing to do with politics."

Mike Clevinger, who will start Saturday's game, said no team decision had been made regarding kneeling for the National Anthem.

"I think it’s up to everyone’s decision. No one is in a place to tell anybody what not to do," Clevinger said on Zoom. "That’s the freedom and I think our soldiers fought for the right to do that. It’s their right to protest and if that’s what they feel they need to do to protest, then that’s their decision."

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read more about the Indians at www.beaconjournal.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.