By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) – Los Angeles Angels pitcher Keynan Middleton took to social media Tuesday to explain why he took a knee during Monday’s exhibition game against the San Diego Padres.

“Racism is something I’ve dealt with my entire life,” Middleton wrote on Instagram. “As a Black man in this country, it is my obligation to want to better the future for generations to come.”

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Keynan Middleton of the Angels pitches during an intrasquad scrimmage at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 8, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. (Getty Images)

The 27-year-old Middleton took a knee and clenched his right fist above his head during the playing of the national anthem before the Angels 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres Monday night at Petco Park.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said Middleton told him in advance he wanted to kneel, and the team was “totally supportive” of the decision.

“I’m very proud that he stood up for his beliefs tonight. I really am,” Maddon said. “It’s not easy to do that, a young man like himself, being the only one out here doing that.”

Middleton explained that he has been taking part in the George Floyd protests, and cited the likes of Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. for inspiring him and others.

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“Over the past few months I’ve been out in the community taking part in peaceful protests and having the difficult conversations that are needed for change,” he wrote. “Before pioneers like Jackie Robinson, a Black man didn’t have a voice in the game of baseball. The foundation laid down and sacrifices made by Jackie and others is the reason I have the platform I do.

“I will not allow that to go to waste. Kneeling for me is one way I can use my platform for change in a peaceful way. I have the utmost respect for all the brave men and women that served this country. We must all take this fight against racial injustice seriously. Until things start to change in this country and my brothers and sisters don’t have to live in fear I will be using my platform to implement change.

“Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.’ Though this, I strive to be a voice for unity.”

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San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler and several of his players also knelt during the national anthem before their 6-2 exhibition victory against the Oakland Athletics Monday.

“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well,” Kapler said. “So I told them that I wanted to use my platform to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we’ve handled racism in our country. I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with our clear systemic racism in our country and I wanted them to know that they got to make their own decisions and we would respect and support those decisions. I wanted them to feel safe in speaking up.”

Middleton was drafted by the Angels in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. He made his major league debut in 2017. He has a 6-1 record with nine saves and a 3.23 ERA in 91 appearances, all in relief. He missed most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.)