Athletics

Maxwell's Army father: 'I’m right there with my baby' when it comes to anthem protest

Maxwell's Army father: 'I’m right there with my baby' when it comes to anthem protest

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s decision to kneel for the national anthem before A’s games has become a national story, and the reaction on social media has ranged from sincere appreciation to ugly rancor over his actions.

One person watching from afar in Alabama wasn’t surprised when Maxwell became the first major league baseball player to take a knee, in an effort to raise awareness of what the A’s catcher views as long-standing racial discrimination that remains in this country.

Bruce Maxwell Jr., said he raised his son to make a difference in matters such as these.

“You don’t have to be brave to do it. You have to care about society,” Maxwell Jr. said in a phone interview. “If I’m trying to raise my child to be a productive citizen, then everything he’s doing is normal to me. That tells me that I did my job as a Dad, because he cares about society. And although he’s the one percent who made it in the world of baseball, he’s willing to sacrifice himself.

“You wanna talk about a proud Dad? I’m proud, buddy.”

The catcher has received death threats geared toward his father via social media, according to Maxwell Jr. The younger Maxwell didn’t mention those when he addressed the media Sunday afternoon, but he did say he’s received some racial slurs and people wishing him injury on the diamond.

Within the A’s clubhouse, Maxwell’s teammates generally gave carefully worded responses when asked about the topic of him kneeling for the anthem. Some were more expansive in their responses than others. But the common thread was a respect for Maxwell’s right to protest, and the manner in which he’s doing it.

“(Kneeling during the anthem) doesn’t bother me if guys are being respectful,” second baseman Jed Lowrie said Sunday morning. “You look at what Bruce did yesterday with his hand over his heart (while kneeling). He’s a guy from a military family, a guy who obviously has a strong respect for this country.”

Maxwell’s father served six years in the Army. He was stationed in Germany when Bruce was born there in 1990. As the two have talked over the past couple of years, the elder Maxwell sensed his son was getting closer to making some kind of social statement.

“What people don't see, or choose not to see, (is) you have minorities dying at the gun of police officers,” Maxwell’s father said. “And being what it is, whether they’re at fault or not at fault, whatever the case may be, it’s an epidemic.”

Maxwell, who is African American and said he and his sister experienced discrimination while growing up in Alabama, plans to continue kneeling for the anthem before every game. He’s got a strong backer in teammate Mark Canha, who on Sunday stood next to a kneeling Maxwell with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a scene that also played out Saturday night. All other A’s players, coaches and staff on the field for the anthem remained standing.

Unlike Saturday, a security guard stood near Maxwell during Sunday’s anthem.

Before Saturday’s game, Maxwell met with the entire team to make them aware of his intentions to kneel and why he’s doing it. A’s starter Kendall Graveman came out of that meeting firmly in Maxwell’s corner.

“I think he’s opened our eyes to a lot of things that a lot of us in this clubhouse have never been exposed to,” Graveman said.

The elder Maxwell was a sounding board for his son leading up to the decision to kneel for the anthem.

“I’ve told him, ‘Son, just be careful what you do.’ And he said ‘Daddy, I’m pretty sure what I want to do.’ So I’m right there with my baby. He’s 26 years old, but I’m right there with my baby.”

Ozuna trade to Cardinals could help A's land outfielder they covet

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AP

Ozuna trade to Cardinals could help A's land outfielder they covet

The Cardinals’ reported acquisition of Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins could pave the way for the A’s acquiring fellow outfielder Stephen Piscotty from St. Louis.

It’s easy to connect those dots as the third and final full day of the Winter Meetings unfold. Several outlets have reported that the Cardinals have agreed to terms to acquire Ozuna from Miami, with a physical being the only thing keeping it from becoming official.

The St. Louis Dispatch mentioned Wednesday morning the idea of that trade possibly facilitating a Piscotty deal to Oakland. Acquiring Ozuna certainly would give St. Louis an outfield surplus. The A’s are known to have been targeting Piscotty since well before the Winter Meetings began. He would fit the bill as the right-handed hitting corner outfielder they desire.

Even better for Oakland, Piscotty is young — he turns 27 next month — and is under team control for the next six years. He’s owed $29.5 million over the next five seasons, a figure the A’s could easily absorb, with a club option for 2023 attached.

Piscotty attended Amador Valley High in Pleasanton and then played at Stanford. As the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported, a trade to Oakland also would bring Piscotty closer to his mother, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.

Should the A’s not be able to get Piscotty, they could look elsewhere on the trade market or scan the free agent market, which they’ve expressed a willingness to do.

A's trade former 2B prospect Joey Wendle, who never got a chance to blossom

A's trade former 2B prospect Joey Wendle, who never got a chance to blossom

The A’s swung a trade on the first day of the Winter Meetings, but it wasn’t the type of swap that’s been anticipated.

Oakland dealt second baseman Joey Wendle to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The storyline for the rest of the week is whether the A’s complete a deal for their biggest target— a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.

They weren’t involved in heavy dialogue Monday as the four-day Winter Meetings opened at the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla. But they’re on the lookout for an outfielder that will allow them to shift Khris Davis from left field to designated hitter.

Billy Beane, the A’s head of baseball operations, reiterated to reporters that the team ideally wants to acquire an outfielder who’s under team control for multiple years. The Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty fits that bill and is known to be a primary target, but the A’s have been linked to others too, including Miami’s Marcell Ozuna.

If a trade doesn’t pan out, Beane didn’t rule out the possibility of signing a free agent outfielder, but the focus is trading for one who’s signed to an affordable contract. Beyond that, the A’s seek a left-handed reliever to continue fortifying a bullpen they’ve already added to this offseason.

“We were pretty specific with who and what we want, whether it be a free agent or a trade,” Beane said of the team’s approach to the meetings. “There’s a few free agents we have interest in, a trade here and there. And if we don’t get them, we’ll just wait for the offseason” to continue.

Wendle, who saw slices of big league time in 2016 and 2017, was originally acquired from Cleveland for Brandon Moss during the 2014 Winter Meetings. He drew some comparisons to Mark Ellis for both his style of play and work ethic but found himself blocked at second base despite an impressive big league debut in September 2016.

He hit .260 that month in 28 games, and though that average doesn’t stand out, he impressed defensively and proved to be a spark plug hitting leadoff, drawing praise from manager Bob Melvin. But a shoulder injury cost the 27-year-old Wendle valuable time in spring training last season and extended into the regular season. It didn’t help his cause that Chad Pinder emerged as a second base option and valuable utility man, and that Franklin Barreto — the A’s top-rated prospect — also arrived on the big league scene for stretches.

In addition, the A’s think highly of another up-and-coming second base prospect, Max Schrock. Acquired from Washington for reliever Marc Rzepczynski in August 2016, the 23-year-old Schrock opened the eyes of Melvin’s staff last spring and hit .321 for Double-A Midland in 2017.

Jed Lowrie, of course, is the A’s veteran incumbent at second base but is a logical trade candidate at any point given Barreto’s inevitable full-time arrival in the majors.