CLEVELAND — While baseball was clearly an afterthought Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians hoped their game at Progressive Field provided some relief for those in a city rocked by tragedy the day before.
“Maybe we can do that by taking the field, ease some minds back in Boston,” Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester said prior to the series opener between Cleveland and Boston, “give them something other than news to watch for a couple hours and hopefully they can forget for a couple hours.”
“I feel like we’re a big part of the city, and the city’s in mourning right now,” Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. “It’s just something where we want to help out as much as we can.
“I think we’re looked at as inhuman sometimes. If we can relate with the fans and Red Sox nation on a more personal level … This is a time we can use our platform for the right reason and really show we’re here for our city and we love the city.”
The American flag was at half mast at Progressive Field and a moment of silence was observed before first pitch. Players on both teams wore black arm bands in recognition of the Boston Marathon bombing. The Red Sox hung a jersey in the visiting dugout that read “Boston Strong,” with the city’s 617 area code as the number.
“I hope so,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said, when asked if playing the game could be therapeutic for some. “That would be terrific. If it helps anybody at all, that would be terrific. I don’t know how you quantify what happened. It’s unfair. I hope this game does help some people.”
Francona has binding ties with Boston, a city he lived in for eight years as Red Sox manager — guiding the team to two World Series titles in 2004 and ’07.
“I’m not sure you have to have roots in Boston to care about that. It’s hard for everybody,” Francona said. “It’s personal for just about everybody. You can see (in videos of the bombing) the church my daughter got married in. It’s very unsettling for everybody.
“You turn on the TV and hear, ‘right wing and left wing.’ I wish there were no wings. I just wish people would get along. I hope people much smarter than me can figure this out so things like this don’t happen anymore. It’s hard enough being an adult. Could you imagine being a kid growing up in this world?”
Indians president Mark Shapiro offered an official statement before tweeting, “The entire Cleveland Indians organization extends our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the events at the Boston Marathon.”
Though they were on the field doing their best to deflect thoughts from the previous day’s events, it was still fresh on the minds of most.
“It’s weird,” Lester said. “You see these things, it’s like movies. For it to hit home like this, it’s a scary deal. But you can’t live in fear. You gotta keep doing what you’re doing and not let these people ruin our lives by doing something like this.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.