Athletics

Bruce Maxwell's arrest on gun charge undercuts his social activism efforts

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Scottsdale PD

Bruce Maxwell's arrest on gun charge undercuts his social activism efforts

Time will tell what the future holds for Bruce Maxwell’s baseball career after the A’s catcher was arrested Saturday night for allegedly pointing a gun at someone.

But there’s a subplot to this ugly incident: It seemingly damages Maxwell’s credibility as an activist for social justice and racial equality, which thrust him into the national spotlight in the first place.

More details are coming out about his arrest Saturday night in Scottsdale, when Maxwell was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct.

ABC15 Arizona released details from court documents of events, and they paint a troubling picture. Police say Maxwell, 26, opened the door to his home and pointed a handgun at the head of a female driver who was delivering him food. Maxwell reportedly lowered the gun as the driver gave him the food, and the driver then called the police after returning to her car.

Officers showed up to Maxwell’s residence, and, according to court documents, they detected alcohol on his breath. He allegedly began yelling, using profanity and making anti-police statements during the arrest.

According to the court documents, Maxwell admitted having a gun on him. He also admitted to un-holstering the gun but then later denied that, and he also denied ever pointing a gun at the driver. Though Maxwell told police he had canceled the food order, the restaurant from which he ordered reportedly had no record of him doing so.

Maxwell was held in custody at Maricopa County jail but released on $10,000 bail. His next court appearance is Nov. 6.

This turn of events unleashed a harsh Twitter response against Maxwell, which could have been predicted.

Maxwell took the bold step in September of becoming the first Major League player to kneel during the national anthem, joining many NFL players who have done the same thing in protest of what they view as ongoing racial inequality in the United States.

Many applauded Maxwell’s gesture on social media, but many also condemned it.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, the conviction and clarity with which Maxwell explained and defended himself was impressive. It was the rationale of someone who had put deep thought into the decision to kneel.

But when a professional athlete takes such a highly visible (and polarizing) stance, in the court of public opinion, it leaves them little margin for error regarding their own missteps. And Maxwell’s misstep Saturday was a doozy. It threatens to undo so much of the good he’s sought to accomplish on various fronts.

To many, it won’t matter that he spends much of his free time during spring training working as a volunteer coach with Mountain Pointe High School’s baseball program in Phoenix. It won’t matter that he spent time in Santa Rosa earlier this month visiting people affected by the devastating North Bay fires.

He now faces felony criminal charges should his case move forward, and there’s no sugarcoating that. It also doesn’t help that Maxwell recently was involved in a bizarre story coming out of Alabama.

He told TMZ Sports that he and two friends, one of them a local councilman, were denied service at a Huntsville restaurant by a server who was pro-Trump and disapproved of Maxwell’s decision to kneel. The restaurant manager and the server later issued strong denials and a different version of how events played out.

Who knows which side is telling the truth from that episode? But that’s exactly the point. It has to be tough, even for Maxwell’s supporters, to decide what to believe regarding his situation right now. And that deals quite a blow to Maxwell’s earnest efforts to make a difference in the political and social climate of our country.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.