Cubs

Joe Maddon gives Cubs space during national anthem: ‘Everybody’s got the right to express themselves’

Joe Maddon gives Cubs space during national anthem: ‘Everybody’s got the right to express themselves’

MILWAUKEE – As protests formed at NFL stadiums across the country, sending an anti-Trump message after the president’s inflammatory rhetoric, a group of about 11 Cubs players and coaches stood off the third-base line while a men’s a cappella group sung the national anthem before Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The night before, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to follow in Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps and kneel during the national anthem at the Oakland Coliseum, sending a jolt through a conservative industry.  

“Like I’ve always talked about, everybody’s got the right to express themselves in the manner in which they feel,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I’ve always felt that way.”

That’s easer said than done in a team sport that doesn’t have the same outspoken culture as NBA or NFL locker rooms. It will be fascinating to see if this starts a similar movement across baseball. The Cubs are a marquee team that has already visited the White House twice since January and will likely return to Washington in October for a must-watch playoff series against the Nationals.

“I have no idea,” Maddon said. “We’re going to wait and see. And, again, if it does, that’s fine. I have no issues. I’m all into self-expression. And if a player feels that he needs to express himself in that manner, then so be it.”

[RELATED — Joe Maddon feels the heat from White House comments and rethinks Trump vs. sports world]

Maxwell, the son of a U.S. Army veteran who made his big-league debut last year, told Bay Area reporters this decision had been building and rooted in his own childhood in Alabama, where Trump appeared on Friday at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange and told the crowd that NFL owners should fire any “son of a b----” kneeling during the national anthem.      

“The point of my kneeling was not to disrespect our military or our constitution or our country,” Maxwell said. “My hand was over my heart because I love this country and I have family members, including my father, who bled for this country, and who continue to serve.

“At the end of the day, this is the best country on the planet. I am and forever will be an American citizen and grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention, and I’m kneeling for the people who don’t have a voice.

“This goes beyond the black and Hispanic communities because right now we have a racial divide that’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country saying it’s basically OK to treat people differently. I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way disrespecting my country or my flag.”

Maddon’s anti-rules philosophy gives the Cubs the space to do whatever they think’s necessary to get ready for the next game. It’s freedom from: dress codes on road trips, guidelines on facial hair and overloaded mandatory batting-practice sessions.

That hands-off approach has worked to the point where the defending World Series champs could clinch a second straight National League Central title as soon as Tuesday at Busch Stadium and celebrate in front of the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s not unusual to see only a small group of players, coaches and staffers standing on the field during the national anthem.

“That’s up to them,” Maddon said. “I’ve never really had a policy regarding being out for the anthem or not. A lot of times guys like to do different things right before the game begins. Sometimes, you’re on the road, you hit later and you get in later and then your time is at a premium. So I’ve never really had a specific theory about coming out for your anthem at all.”

Cubs lay out rotation plans following postponed series against Cardinals

Cubs lay out rotation plans following postponed series against Cardinals

The Cubs laid out their starting rotation plans for this coming week following the postponement of their series in St. Louis due to several more Cardinals testing positive for COVID-19.

After Monday’s off day, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks will take the bump in Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Cubs return to Chicago for a four-game set against the Brewers starting Thursday, and Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood and Alec Mills will start the first three games.

“It lined up for giving each guy the least amount of days off as we possibly could,” Cubs manager David Ross said Sunday.

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Lester, who was scheduled to start in St. Louis on Friday, threw a bullpen session on Saturday. He last started on Aug. 2, giving him eight days between starts.

Hendricks (Tuesday), Darvish (Wednesday) and Chatwood (Thursday) started against the Royals and will each have seven days between starts. Mills started this past Monday but pitched five innings in a sim game on Sunday, putting five days between that and his next outing.

RELATED: Why Cubs-Cards COVID-19 postponement raises heat on MLB, ethics questions

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Cubs grant Derek Dietrich his release to pursue a major league opportunity

Cubs grant Derek Dietrich his release to pursue a major league opportunity

The Cubs have granted utility man Derek Dietrich his release, the team announced Sunday.

According to the Cubs, Dietrich requested his released to pursue a major league opportunity. The Cubs’ player pool drops down to 59 players, with one open spot.

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Dietrich signed with the club in late July, soon after exercising the out clause in his contract with the Reds. Dietrich reported to the Cubs’ South Bend alternate site.

The seven-year veteran has a career .246 batting average. Last season, his batting average dropped to .187, but he hit 19 home runs for the Reds. Then this summer, Dietrich was two weeks delayed in joining the Reds player pool due to a positive COVID-19 test. Cincinnati announced his addition on July 15.

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