Jason Heyward decides not to play as athletes continue to protest Jacob Blake shooting

“I felt that I needed to be a part of what’s going on,” Heyward said.

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AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Right fielder Jason Heyward didn’t know what he was going to do before the Cubs took the field against the Tigers on Wednesday in Detroit, but he knew he had to do something.

Heyward made the decision to pull himself out of the lineup before the Cubs’ 7-6 loss.

“It wasn’t something I was prepared for at all,” Heyward said.

Heyward had discussions with players around MLB, including Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, who shared his plans with Heyward before the game. Once players began to see what was happening in the NBA, that’s when things began to move.

Heyward’s decision came after a discussion with manager David Ross, who called him into his office before the game to see what he wanted to do. That meeting led to a larger meeting, where Heyward spoke to the team about his plans.

“There was discussion, and there were multiple guys saying they weren’t comfortable going out there and playing if I wasn’t gonna go out there,” Heyward said. “They didn’t want to leave me hanging. I let them know, encouraged them, ‘No, go play the game. I don’t think the game should be canceled. But I think I have to do what I have to do.’ That’s another reason that I was out there in the dugout supporting them because they support me every single day through this

“I told the guys, I will stand by all you guys with whatever we decide,” Ross said. “And supporting Jason is No. 1, and he wanted us to play, and so that’s what we did.”

The decision came as players around MLB and other major sports leagues decided to boycott games in protest of the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake.

Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday as he attempted to enter his vehicle with his children inside.

“There’s a lot of common sense in this world that we don’t use,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “To shoot a guy in the back like that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“We’re family,” starting pitcher Jon Lester said. ‘‘Whenever a family member isn’t feeling good or down or upset, you know, we all have each other’s back. And we’re all here for each other.”

The Brewers-Reds, Mariners-Padres and Dodgers-Giants games were postponed as the teams agreed not to play.

The Cubs gave Heyward the freedom to do what he felt he needed to do and to ultimately be the guide for the club. While his decision was not planned, he felt it was his responsibility to be about action in a sport that historically has been slow to react.

“I felt that I needed to be a part of what’s going on,” Heyward said. “I say that because we made these statements together in the Players Alliance, as players in MLB, that it’s time for us to stand up and be a part of the cause and not just sweep it under the rug. And if we just went out there and played tonight and ignored what the NBA was doing and ignoring what’s happening right now, then I feel like that would be going back on our word.”

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