When you take a step back and look at the backgrounds of the Giants players and coaches who took a knee Monday night during the national anthem, one thing stands out. They all are unproven in this game, and they all in theory have a lot to lose by speaking out.
A day after he took a knee, Jaylin Davis admitted that was on his mind.
The 26-year-old has just 17 games of big league experience. He has spent two camps this year trying to prove that he's worthy of a roster spot, that he's ready to leave his Triple-A dominance in the past. Davis said Tuesday that kneeling was a "difficult decision, me being a younger guy, a first-year guy," but ultimately credited conversations with Hunter Pence and Mike Yastrzemski with helping to convince him that he had nothing to worry about.
While Pence wasn't in Oakland last night, Yastrzesmki kneeled with Davis, Austin Slater, manager Gabe Kapler and coaches Antoan Richardson and Justin Viele. A day later, Davis was happy he made that decision.
"We talked about at the beginning, before we even started camp, that we wanted to make it known that we weren't going to let everything just be pushed aside just because baseball was back," Davis said.
The young outfielder hinted that more is to come. While he wouldn't say if he will continue kneeling, he said MLB and the Giants "have some other things planned, too." The first statement was a massive one.
The Giants caught the attention of the baseball world and the President's Twitter account. Davis said he woke up to plenty of texts from former Minnesota Twins teammates and coaches.
"They told me they support me and they're behind me," he said.
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That was Kapler's message, too, one he passed along when he called Davis earlier Monday. The Giants had not been 100 percent sure that there even would be a national anthem for an exhibition without fans, but in recent days they talked about what they might do. Davis said knowing teammates and Kapler would be alongside him made it a more comfortable situation, and he thanked Brandon Crawford before the game when the shortstop said he would stand behind Davis with a hand on his shoulder.
Before making a final decision Monday, Davis consulted his family.
"I kind of made the decision right there," he said. "I spoke about how I felt about everything in the blog post that I posted, so I felt that I wanted to do it last night."
Davis is expected to play a big role in this upcoming season. Yastrzemski and Slater should, too, and it's important that their acts Monday night don't go unnoticed. Both are also trying to establish themselves in the big leagues.
Slater has never held a full-time big league job. Yastrzemski has never played a full big league season. Antoan Richardson and Justin Viele are both in their first year on a big league coaching staff. Kapler is coming off a two-year stint in Philadelphia that ended with a firing.
Yet on Monday, all took a knee to make a statement about something they believe strongly in. It was a surprise to most outsiders, but not to Davis. He had spoken to his coaches and spoke to Yastrzemski before the game. He said he left a team meeting about the subject feeling that Slater would join in, too.
"It really meant a lot to me that they did that," Davis said. "For them to be courageous enough to do it, it really meant a lot."