CLEVELAND — When the Black Lives Matter movement re-emerged across the country, Indians outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. wanted to do his part to educate as many people as he could about his own experiences with racial inequality and social injustice. Now, he’ll also be an example for his teammates about
CLEVELAND — When the Black Lives Matter movement re-emerged across the country, Indians outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. wanted to do his part to educate as many people as he could about his own experiences with racial inequality and social injustice. Now, he’ll also be an example for his teammates about the protocols for COVID-19.
Over three weeks ago, DeShields tested positive for the coronavirus at home in Arizona, despite abiding all health guidelines.
“I guess bummed out a little bit,” DeShields said of his initial reaction to testing positive. “… I was more disappointed that all the work I was putting in had to just come to a stop.”
DeShields said that the only symptoms he experienced from the virus were a loss of smell and taste, both of which he’s regained.
“If there are foods that you don’t like that are good for you, you can crush it,” DeShields joked of his lack of taste. “But honestly, it sucked. I didn’t have an appetite. Usually if you smell something that’s good, you want it, you know what I’m saying? I couldn’t smell anything. It was a really strange experience.
“It wasn’t fun at all. I know there are some people out there that haven’t gotten their senses back after a certain amount of time. I have, so I’m fortunate and grateful for that. But during that week, week and a half, it was pretty brutal.”
While he was expecting to be down for just one or two weeks, the virus hung around for an extra few days, and that made it harder for him to be patient to return to camp. DeShields was traded to the Indians from the Rangers (along with Emmanuel Clase) in exchange for Corey Kluber in December. After spending half of Spring Training getting to know his new teammates, baseball was suspended for 3 1/2 months. Then, he had to miss even more time to recover.
“It’s one of those things where you come into a situation and things are getting comfortable and then it stops,” DeShields said. “Then it gets started back up again and you’re not able to be a part of it. It sucks, but at the end of the day, we’re here to play baseball and I want to do what I can to help this organization win, and I feel like the guys here have done a good job of making me feel comfortable. … I’m kind of like the new kid on the block. They’ve been doing a really good job of making me feel at home.”
While baseball was put on pause, DeShields said he watched a lot of TV and spent time with his daughter. He also took advantage of some of the down time to use his platform to speak out about racial inequality and social injustice happening across the country. He shared his personal experiences on his social media pages and designed some Easton batting gloves and wrist bands that he plans to wear throughout the season to show his support.
“I think the main thing is just to continue to try to educate people as much as I can and being open and honest about my experiences,” DeShields said. “I think it gives people a different perspective when you’re open and you become a little vulnerable about things that you’ve been through in your life. And it makes it more real. A lot of you guys probably haven’t experienced anything like that before, so I think it just kind of gives people a different understanding, gives you a different point of view and hopefully that can kind of give you a little more understanding of the issues going on in America.”
DeShields’ goal is to make sure this conversation continues throughout this season and beyond, which may be easier for him now that he’s healthy and physically returned to the game. He traveled to Cleveland on Friday and had two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart, and he already had exceeded his 14-day self-quarantine protocols. He was cleared to report to camp on Saturday and has started doing light hitting and throwing workouts.
“My main thing is making sure that my legs are good and my arm, you know what I’m saying?” DeShields said. “Those are two things I kind of have problems with early in Spring Training. … I feel good physically. I haven’t had any issues so far, so I just hope I can keep pushing myself and stay healthy at the same time.”
The Indians placed DeShields on the 10-day injured list on Monday, which gives the club the freedom to activate him as early in the season as they’d like. The outfielder is aiming to be ready by Opening Day, but he’ll have to wait to see how his body responds.
“If I don’t feel like I’m physically ready to start playing games, I’m not going to rush it,” DeShields said. “If I don’t feel like I’m going to be able to help a team right away, I’m not going to be playing just selfishly because I want to play. I think this is something that’s bigger than me. … I’m going to push myself as hard as I can, but I’m also going to be completely honest with where I’m at every single day and then just kind of go from there.”