Athletics

Boos for Maxwell 'very mild' in first road game since kneeling for anthem

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AP

Boos for Maxwell 'very mild' in first road game since kneeling for anthem

ARLINGTON, Texas — In a bit of a surprise, the most newsworthy part of Bruce Maxwell’s night was yet another foul tip that he took to the catcher’s mask.

Playing in his first road game since he began kneeling for the national anthem, the A’s catcher heard some light boos Thursday from the Globe Life Park crowd when his name was announced, but nothing too harsh.

He’s garnered national attention as the first player in the major leagues to take a knee during the anthem, joining the social protest that’s gathering steam around professional sports in America.

“I got boos, people yelling at me every at-bat. (But) very mild compared to the social media aspect of things,” Maxwell said after the A’s 4-1 victory over the Rangers.

Just a few days after completing concussion protocol for taking a direct hit to the mask on a foul tip, Maxwell caught another foul tip Thursday, though this one got him on the chin more and wasn’t as hard of a shot. He was checked by trainers and remained in the game, finishing 1-for-3.

Two A’s officials had dialogue with both the Rangers and Major League Baseball about getting beefed up security for Maxwell during this four-game series in Arlington.

During the anthem itself, he may have caught a break as he was tucked away from most of the crowd. Maxwell was kneeling out in the bullpen, beyond the outfield wall in left-center, because he was catching Sean Manaea’s pregame warmup session. For home games, the starting pitcher finishes warming up earlier, which is why Maxwell knelt in front of the dugout for the anthem at the Coliseum.

Unsure of how the atmosphere would be, Maxwell told his father not to travel to Arlington for the series. He said his father typically would have made the trip because it’s the A’s last series of the season.

Maxwell’s father, also named Bruce, told NBC Sports California on Sunday that death threats had been directed at him, received by his son via social media.

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

The Oakland A's last made the playoffs in 2014. Beginning about a month after Salvador Perez walked Oakland off in the 12th inning of the AL Wild Card Game, the A's began the process of reshaping their team, trading away key players such as All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and letting others walk away in free agency.

Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie, who's set to appear in his first-ever MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, was one of those players. Naturally, the 34-year-old has a unique perspective, now that his A's have the sixth-best record in baseball. 

On Monday, Pedro Martinez asked Lowrie on MLB Network if the A's are going to stay together this time.

"You know, I've been in Oakland when we've actually added pieces," Lowrie said. "And I think that front office knows an opportunity when they see it, and hopefully they see the opportunity this year because I think we've got a good group."

His bosses might be one step ahead of him. A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Bean told The Athletic on Friday that his team is prepared to add at the trade deadline. General manager David Forst, meanwhile, told Jim Rome last week that his team "deserves a chance to stay together."

Does Lowrie believe it? 

“Like I said, it’s a smart group, and I think they recognize an opportunity when it presents itself,” Lowrie added in the MLB Network interview.

At 55-42, the A's might just have that opportunity. 

A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo honors Stoneman Douglas High School at Futures Game

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AP

A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo honors Stoneman Douglas High School at Futures Game

While A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo was impressing scouts with his arm at Sunday's MLB Futures Game, all eyes should have been on his feet. 

A graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the 20-year-old Luzardo wore cleats honoring the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida school. 

“It’s for those who passed and the people affected,” Luzardo told USA Today's Ted Berg before his start on Sunday. “After what happened, I’m glad to be here representing them — we have [Stoneman Douglas alum and Cubs first baseman Anthony] Rizzo, we have other guys. But it’s always good to be known that I went to Stoneman Douglas. I’m happy that I grew up there.”

Born in Peru, Luzardo and his family moved to Parkland when he was a baby. Luzardo told USA Today's Ted Berg he was supposed to be at his alma mater on Feb. 14, in order to throw batting practice to his old team, but stayed away from campus after coach Todd Fitz-Gerald told him there was an active shooter. 

Luzardo's honored the victims in his community elsewhere, too. He set up a YouCaring.com fundraiser to create a scholarship fund in honor of one of the victims, athletic director Chris Hixon. The fund has raised already just over $10,060, and is about $5000 shy of its $15,000 goal. 

The A's acquired Luzardo in a midseason trade with the Washington Nationals last season. Luzardo, who MLB.com ranked as the No. 60 prospect in baseball entering the season, moved up to Double-A this season. In 13 starts with the Midland RockHounds, Luzardo has pitched 63.2 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.