Mutual respect led to Chicago Cubs playing game without Heyward

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs' Jason Heyward, left, is congratulated by Anthony Rizzo after the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 7-1 in a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Cleveland.

    Chicago Cubs' Jason Heyward, left, is congratulated by Anthony Rizzo after the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 7-1 in a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Cleveland.

 
 
Updated 8/28/2020 10:28 PM

The Cubs caught some heat for letting Jason Heyward sit solo Wednesday in Detroit.

Heyward skipped the game to join players across the NBA, WNBA and baseball to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The rest of the Cubs played the game, while Heyward showed support from the dugout.

 

Maybe it was a bad look out of context. But one thing that seems obvious is Heyward is a very conscientious teammate.

He knew starting pitcher Jon Lester was already on the mound warming up. He knew this was the last scheduled game between the Cubs and Tigers this season. Postpone the game and the Cubs might have to make an extra road trip or miss their scheduled day off back at home Thursday.

So Heyward told his teammates, 'Don't worry about me, just go play the game.' And because Heyward carries heavy respect in the clubhouse, the rest of the Cubs listened.

"I had guys coming to me very close to game time that day," Heyward said before Friday's 6-5 loss in Cincinnati. "I still let them know I felt like the right thing to do was for us to play that game.

"I think we all had that outlook of we're a family, we support each other. We don't leave anyone behind. The support and love from my end was felt from them. They know I wanted to be out there playing, but they understand I had to do what I had to do."

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Both Heyward and manager David Ross felt there was a good chance the Cubs wouldn't have played if they had a couple of hours to talk it over and let the situation sink in.

"I can't speculate," Heyward said. "The tough part is, we didn't have that hour. We didn't really have 30 minutes. I've never done this before. I don't know how to handle this.

"If I don't know how to handle it, people that are not in my situation, people that never felt the struggle I felt in my community, they definitely don't know how to handle it."

Kyle Schwarber had a good perspective on how torn the Cubs were Wednesday. The players wanted to support and respect Heyward and weren't certain they made the right call.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That was a tough day in Detroit," Schwarber said. "That was a day that was pulling all of our hearts. It was wanting to be there for the Black community and wanting to be there for Jason Heyward and being able to support it in the best way that we can."

Schwarber continued with some of his personal history, which has been recounted before. His wife is biracial, he has biracial nieces and nephews, he has relatives in law enforcement. His brother-in-law, whom he called his best friend in the world, is Black.

"Not trying to pulling any card or something like that. This is my reality," Schwarber said. "This is something that I live every day that I want to be able to do the right thing. I just hope one day this will all come to an end and both sides will be at peace and be able to be everyday Americans and live out the American dream.

"We want our country to not be so angry, I guess I would say. It's all about loving one another and treating each other with respect and not judging people just because they look some way. With baseball, NBA, WNBA doing what they're doing, I think they're all stepping up and being great voices in these times right now."

The Cubs (18-13) got off to a good start Friday, thanks to first-inning home runs by Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo. But then they managed just 1 hit until the ninth inning, when home runs by Willson Contreras and Heyward bought them within 1.

This was similar to the ending in Detroit on Wednesday, when the Cubs trailed 7-3 and scored 3 runs in the ninth. The Cubs have now gone 5-10 after their scorching 13-3 start.

Kyle Hendricks (3-4) again wasn't sharp, giving up 5 runs and 10 hits in 6 innings. On the other side, the Cubs struck out 14 times against Reds starter Tyler Mahle and three other pitchers. Javy Baez struck out in all four of his plate appearances.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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