Jarrod Dyson is among the more outgoing players in the Mariners clubhouse. The veteran left-fielder smiles when he talks, and he talks constantly, about a lot of things.
But, he gave me a pained look Tuesday afternoon when I asked him if he had any thoughts on the abusive way the Orioles’ Adam Jones was treated Monday night at Boston’s Fenway Park.
It was a dumb question.
A bag of peanuts was hurled at Jones from the stands. He was called the most vile of racial slurs.
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Of course Dyson — one of only 62 black players to open the 2017 baseball season on a major league roster — had thoughts about an incident MLB Players Association director Tony Clark called “reprehensible, unacceptable and unfortunate.”
But the Mariners were three hours away from playing their first game of what they hope is a bounce-back month, and Dyson had other things on his mind.
“We got enough problems of our own to deal with, can’t worry about what other teams are going through,” Dyson said. “I don’t want to talk about it. We’re here trying to get back on a winning streak, and talking about Adam Jones is not going to help us.”
Dyson grew up in Mississippi, where he makes his home during the winter, and has played dozens of games in Fenway Park. On Tuesday, he sounded conflicted about addressing America’s oldest social ill, five centuries and counting.
Part of him wanted to go there. Part of him couldn’t.
“It’s not appropriate to do the things they did to him,” Dyson said of the abuse Jones took. “I feel bad. It’s a sad thing.
“But it is what it is. You can’t do much about it, because we’ve got to stay focused and play our game.”
On the other side of the Mariners clubhouse, second baseman Robinson Cano expressed surprise upon learning of Jones’ treatment.
During the nine seasons he starred with the Yankees, Cano found himself participating in baseball’s most intense rivalry: Two teams from the same region, each with rabid fans steeped in rich histories.
But Cano never had problems as a Yankee in Boston.
“The only time something happened was when a guy came onto the field, grabbed my hat, and ran away,” he said. “But aside from that, they were nice to me when I was with New York.
“It’s surprising the fans said those things.”
Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia would dispute Cano’s recollection of Red Sox fans as benign. He told Newsday’s Erik Boland on Tuesday that Boston is the only MLB city where he has been called the “N-word.”
“We know,” Sabathia said of issues black players encounter in Fenway Park. “There’s 62 of us. We know. We all know. When you go to Boston, you expect it.”
Jones was given a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate Tuesday, a gesture that underscored the reality the grand ballpark generally is populated by civilized spectators more anxious to see progress than to turn back the clock to the 19th century.
It only takes a few, in concert with fans disinclined to create a scene. So they sit on their hands and say nothing.
The history of evil, right there.
John McGrath: @TNTMcGrath