Bean brings message of inclusion to Rockies camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- MLB Ambassador of Inclusion Billy Bean toured the Rockies' Salt River Fields at Talking Stick complex Friday and met with club officials, emphasizing that he's available to help with inclusion issues.

Bean has said hiding the fact he is gay created a stress level that shortened his career as a utility player in the Majors, and is most connected to the issue of sexual orientation in the sport. However, Bean said his role is deeper than simply speaking engagements or seminars for players about the issue.

"I have to communicate what we're trying to do, but the job is definitely to grow a message inside our business," Bean said. "The Rockies are going to influence the community better than I can. I like to highlight little victories moving forward, and I will do that moving forward, whether it's to girls on a Little League team in Denver or a single-parent-household kid triumphs and the Rockies celebrate that.

"There are so many ways for an accepting message. Certainly the LGBT community is part of it, but it's not exclusive to it. We're all trying to build our sport and take advantage of the platform by being conscious of what's going on in our communities and give back."

While the idea of players' sexual orientation often gains media attention, Bean emphasized to the Rockies that there are plenty of "opportunities for things to happen in the workplace, and I can provide resources for them." Assistant general manager Zack Rosenthal took Bean on his tour, which included meeting general manager Jeff Bridich and key figures inside and outside the baseball operation. The trip was at the Rockies' invitation.

Bean also made clear that inclusion means there is room for everyone, not that everyone necessarily has to agree. Controversy arose during his trip to the Mets' camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla., when second baseman Daniel Murphy told a newspaper that based on his Christian faith he disagreed with Bean's lifestyle. Murphy also said he would accept Bean as a teammate and would treat him properly.

Bean said the reason he wrote an article on MLB.com in response was to stand up for Murphy, a player and person he respects. Bean hopes the exchange of perspectives leads to understanding that folks can have differences, yet share common ground.

"I thought it was vital that everyone read from me that his opinion is equally important in every clubhouse as mine," Bean said. "There are many people like Daniel who have very strong faith. I don't want to challenge that on any level.

"I wasn't happy that the press was piling on him. I wasn't happy that they were piling on me. But that's part of the process to getting a conversation started."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.