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Dusty Baker doesn’t think athletes should “stick to sports”

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Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a terrific column up in which he investigates the latest intersection of sports and politics as a result of players kneeling for the national anthem. Those players, of course, have joined Colin Kaepernick’s crusade to bring attention to the inequality people of color deal with when interacting with law enforcement.

Baker was a reservist in the Marine Corps from 1968 to 1974, Nesbitt notes, but he didn’t tell his players they shouldn’t protest by kneeling for the anthem. Baker said, “Sports can’t be silent. They want you to be silent, but this is a microcosm of our whole society. It’s more of a microcosm than probably any other occupation in the world. How many different jobs have as many Latin Americans, blacks, whites, Europeans, Asians — American and from Asia — Africans. You understand? So how can it be separate?”

Baker continued, “These guys have ideas. They’ve all been raised differently. They’ve got some Republicans in [the clubhouse]. They’ve got some Democrats. They have some Trump supporters. They have some Hillary Clinton supporters. … So how can it be separate? They’re actually like the fans themselves, but they’ve just got a baseball uniform on, and you go watch them play.”

Baker also discussed that some things may seem better now than they were when he was younger, but other things have gotten worse. “There was anti-Vietnam. There was riots. There was segregation. There were more things then than there are now. Things have improved in many ways, but they’ve regressed in many other ways. We have a problem. Anybody who doesn’t think we have a problem, they need to look around and ask the young people. And we do have a problem.”

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.