CLEVELAND — Micah Johnson had Tuesday night off. He’s glad to be in back in the lineup Wednesday, which is Jackie Robinson Day around major league baseball.
“It’s a pretty special day,” Johnson said before the White Sox played the Cleveland Indians. “Him and [Cuban] Minnie Minoso set the stage for tons of players and you can never forget that, the people that came before you to open up this opportunity. But it’s pretty cool to play on this day. It’s one of the days I’ve dreamed about playing on coming up as a kid.”
It was 68 years ago today in 1947 that Robinson, as a Brooklyn Dodger, broke baseball’s color barrier. All Sox and Indians players will wear Robinson’s No. 42, which has been retired by baseball, but Johnson, a rookie second baseman, is the only African-American on the Sox roster. In 1986, 19 percent of major-league rosters were represented by African Americans. The percentage this year is 7.8 percent, down from 8.2 percent last season. Johnson, who played soccer and baseball growing up but not basketball, believes the decline can come to a halt.
“Everything always has those phases,” he said. “Basketball is kind of huge now. It’s going to take baseball to put the players to the forefront, market the McCutchens, the Uptons, the Brantleys, Tyson Ross, Taijuan Walker, Dee Gordon, all these young faces to really put them out there so that kids can see them. Everybody knows who Steph Curry is and Kyrie Irving, everybody knows who those guys are because they’re on TV all the time. That’s what it really takes is to kind of put it in the face of the kids so they can see. You’ve got a guy like McCutchen, an MVP who has dreads, you don’t have to … you can be yourself and still play baseball.”
“It’s kind of sad to see the numbers of African Americans on the decline for whatever reason. It’s not like what it used to be when Harold [Baines] and all those guys played.”
Running on the Sox
Baserunners are 8-for-8 stealing against Tyler Flowers but manager Robin Ventura said Tyler Flowers’ throwing has been fine.
“There needs to be more of the pitcher having a little more effect on the guys running, varying looks and things like that,” Ventura said. “I think he’s actually throwing a little bit better than he has in the past. He had some shoulder stuff the last couple years but he looks to be throwing good. He is healthy.”
Geovany Soto was in the lineup in Wedensday’s day game. Ventura likes that Soto’s veteran presence provides a trust factor with his pitch-calling skills, “which is really good for us,” he said, and probably something that wasn’t quite as strong with pitchers when rookie Adrian Nieto was the backup last year.
Petricka headed to Charlotte for rehab assignment
Jake Petricka (right forearm strain) is going on a rehab assignment to AAA Charlotte, and appears to be on track to return for the Sox homestand when they play the Indians and Royals next week. “He’s feeling good,” Ventura said.
Petricka is scheduled to pitch Thursday and Saturday.
About last night
In the Sox’ 4-1 victory over the Indians Tuesday, Sox pitchers recorded 14 strikeouts, including eight by the bullpen, marking the first time since April 24, 1974 against the Brewers that Sox relievers fanned eight batters in three innings or less (STATS).
Dan Jennings struck out two in the seventh and Zach Duke and David Robertson each struck out the side in the eighth and ninth innings. It was the third time since 1913 that Sox pitchers allowed no earned runs and three hits or less while striking out 14 batters, according to Elias. That also happened on May 1, 1959 against the Red Sox and June 13, 1994 against the Oakland A’s.