Molitor defends Twins' respect for anthem

CLEVELAND -- The Twins responded on Friday to a story about a picture taken by a fan at Saturday's home game against the White Sox, in which there were just seven Twins players standing in front of the home dugout during the national anthem.

The fan who took the picture called the showing "unacceptable," but Twins manager Paul Molitor defended his organization on Friday.

"It's unfortunate that someone would [write a story] like that, given what this organization does to honor our servicemen," Molitor said. "Our pre-anthem honoring is probably as well-done as any team in the game. It's responded to very positively by our fans."

Before every home game, the Twins honor a war veteran on the field and allow that veteran to raise the American flag during the singing of the anthem.

"I don't think we have any players here who have anything but the utmost respect for our servicemen and our country," Molitor said. "It's sad that it's being portrayed in this light. Obviously, as a manager, I've been made aware of at least trying to make it appear aesthetically better, because as far as our motive or what we think about it, it's not being reflected by the fact that we only have six or seven people in front of our dugout for home games."

Molitor echoed the statements made by Twins president Dave St. Peter -- that the showing has nothing to do with the player's thoughts toward America or the anthem. They're simply following the routine they go through every day.

"We've got a lot of people in the bullpen," Molitor said. "Their routine is to go out around 6:45 to 6:50 for a night game, and we lose about a quarter of our roster right there. We often have four or five guys down the right-field line running sprints, and we have a few guys whose routine doesn't get them out there. I don't want to change what guys do to get ready for games, but certainly we will try to find a way."

August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.