Drew Silva

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Brewers minor leaguer David Denson becomes first openly gay player in MLB-affiliated ball


David Denson, a first baseman and corner outfielder for the Brewers’ team in the rookie-level Pioneer League, has revealed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he is gay. He is the first openly gay player in MLB-affiliated ball — Sean Conroy, a pitcher for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association, came out back in June.

Here’s an excerpt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece, which was put together this week with the help of former major league outfielder and current MLB Ambassador for Inclusion Billy Bean …

For so long, David Denson desperately wanted to reveal to his baseball teammates that he is gay. He just never envisioned it happening in such impromptu and unstructured fashion.

A first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers’ rookie affiliate in Helena, Mont., Denson had just entered the clubhouse a month or so ago when a teammate jokingly referred to him using a derogatory term for a gay male. It was the kind of profane, politically incorrect banter heard in that environment since team sports have been around.

That teammate had no way of knowing Denson actually is gay, but the 20-year-old slugger of African-American and Hispanic descent quickly seized the opportunity.

“Be careful what you say. You never know,” Denson cautioned the player with a smile.

Before he knew it, Denson was making the emotional announcement he yearned to share, and the group around him expanded to the point that he soon was speaking to most of the team. Much to Denson’s relief, when the conversation ended he was greeted with outward support and understanding instead of condemnation.

The whole story is obviously worth a read. Denson was a 15th-round pick in 2013 out of South Hills High School in West Covina, California. The 20-year-old has batted .240/.355/.379 in 179 professional games.

Drew Smyly could return to Rays’ rotation Sunday

Drew Smyly

Drew Smyly made it through a fourth rehab start Tuesday night at Triple-A Durham without feeling any abnormal discomfort in his throwing shoulder and could return to Tampa Bay’s starting rotation for Sunday’s series finale against the Rangers.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says Smyly will travel with the Rays to Texas and throw a bullpen session in front of team management on Friday. If that goes well, an official go-ahead should follow.

Smyly has been on the disabled list since early May with a partially-torn labrum in his left shoulder. He had a 2.70 ERA in three starts before the injury and the 26-year-old boasts a 1.96 ERA in 10 total appearances (64 1/3 innings) with Tampa Bay dating back to last summer’s trade — a blockbuster swap that sent Smyly to Tampa Bay and David Price to Detroit.

Nori Aoki likely headed to concussion disabled list

Nori Aoki, Joaquin Arias

Alex Pavlovic has the news at CSNBayArea.com:

Aoki was pulled after four innings of Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros and was showing signs of a concussion. After getting hit in the head by a pitch Sunday, Aoki passed a concussion test the next day and passed further tests on Tuesday. But Bochy said Aoki felt lightheaded and dizzy in the early innings Wednesday.

“He’ll be reevaluated tomorrow and we’ll decide what to do,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after Wednesday’s game. “He felt fine yesterday. He was evaluated. We’ll know more tomorrow, but he showed symptoms. My guess is we’ll have to be careful here.”

This is probably going to end up with Aoki being placed on MLB’s new 7-day concussion disabled list.

The 33-year-old outfielder has been an excellent top-of-the-order presence for San Francisco when healthy, batting .302 with a .368 on-base percentage. He missed most of July with a fracture in his right leg.