Several MLB players and coaches took part in silent protest against racial injustice during the playing of the national anthem prior to exhibition games on Monday.
San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, a former player, was among those kneeling prior to the Giants-Athletics exhibition game at the Oakland Coliseum on Monday night. Kapler was joined in protest by Giants outfielder Jaylin Davis and first-base coach Antoan Richardson.
Elsewhere, in San Diego, Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Kenyan Middleton took a knee and raised his fist during the playing of the anthem.
President Trump appeared to weigh in on Tuesday morning, reiterating once again that he is "looking forward to live sports" but suggested he will not watch any league that allows players to kneel in protest.
Kapler said he addressed his team earlier on Monday, and told them they would have the full support of the Giants organization regardless of how they chose to express themselves, if at all.
"I wanted them to know that I wasn't pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality, and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well," Kapler said, according to The Associated Press.
"I told them that I wanted to use my platform to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we've handled racism in our country. I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with our clear systemic racism in our country, and I wanted them to know that they got to make their own decisions, and we would respect and support those decisions. I wanted them to feel safe in speaking up."
Angels manager Joe Maddon praised Middleton for having the courage to be the only player on his team to protest.
"I'm very proud that he stood up for his beliefs tonight," Maddon said. "I really am. It's not easy to do that, a young man like himself, being the only one out here doing that."
The scene in Oakland unfolded on the very field where former A's catcher Bruce Maxwell in 2017 became the first and only MLB player to kneel during the anthem in protest of police brutality. Maxwell subsequently spent 2018 between Triple-A and the majors, before playing in the Mexican League in 2019.
Kapler didn't say whether he and any of his players planned on continuing the protests.
"We're going to have 60 chances in the regular season to make the same decision that we made today, to either stand or kneel or do something different. Right now, it's another opportunity tomorrow night."
Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty recently said "something is in the works" with respect to coordinated protest efforts among players.
The Giants are slated to begin their season on Thursday, in one of two games scheduled for that day. The remainder of MLB's clubs will play on Opening Day 2.0 on Friday.