Kevin Cash says ‘Pride Night’ logo opt-out of some Tampa Bay Rays players won’t divide team

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Several Tampa Bay Rays players decided not to wear rainbow logos on their uniforms as part of the team’s annual “Pride Night” on Saturday that recognized the LGBTQ community.

Rays manager Kevin Cash addressed him after Sunday’s game and said he doesn’t think it will have a negative impact on the clubhouse because the discussions between the players in recent weeks have been constructive and have emphasized the value of different perspectives.

“First of all, I think the organization has done a really good thing for Pride Nights to support our gay community to come out and have a good night at the ballpark,” Cash said. “I’m impressed that our players have had those conversations and we want to support our players who choose to wear or not wear to the best of our ability.”

Among the players who chose to remove the logos were pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson. according to the Tampa Bay Times. Adam was chosen to speak for the group after the game, saying it was a “faith-based decision” for many of them.

“So it’s a tough call,” Adam told the Tampa Bay Times. “Because ultimately we all said that what we want is for them to know that everyone is welcome and loved here. But when we put it into our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe, not that If you see yourself criticizing anyone or thinking differently, it’s just that we may not want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who encouraged us to live a lifestyle that refrains from such behavior.

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“…It’s not a judgment. It’s not looking down. It’s simply what we believe to be the lifestyle that we were encouraged to live, for our sake, not to hold back. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them and want them to feel safe and welcome here.”

Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers passed a law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed, that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. Critics argue that the true intent of the law is to marginalize LGBTQ people and their families.

Members of the LGBTQ community participated in pre-game activities and mini LGBTQ flags were handed out to fans.

“It’s one of those things, my parents taught me to love everyone just the way they are, live your life, whatever your preferences, be yourself,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who was wearing the rainbow logos, told the Times. “I can’t speak for everyone here, obviously, but this is a family atmosphere here on a major league ballpark.

“… We just want everyone to feel welcome and included and cheer us on. It doesn’t matter what your views are on anything.”

Saturday’s attendance was 19,452, above the season average of 16,868. Participation in the final game of Sunday’s series against the Chicago White Sox was 11,162.

Associated Press contributed to this story.