Athletics

Is Cook A's closer of future, present?

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Is Cook A's closer of future, present?

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's Pregame Live begins at 5:00 on Comcast SportsNet California, followed by A's-Rockies at 5:40, and A's Postgame Live immediately after the final out.

Ryan Cook notched his first Major League save on Tuesday in Colorado. It wasn't without drama and intrigue. He put two runners on base with no outs, before striking out the Rockies two best hitters, Carlos Gonzalez, and Michael Cuddyer, and getting Todd Helton to ground into the final out of the game. Cook has a minuscule 0.67 ERA, .085 opponents batting average, and a .122 opponents slugging percentage. He is ranked second among American League relievers in all three of those categories. He hasn't allowed a run in 24 of his 25 appearances, and started the season with 23 scoreless innings pitched. With numbers like that, it was a matter of time before he would be given a chance to take over the closer role. After the game his teammates made a public showing of support for the 24-year-old reliever via Twitter. Congratulations to @ryancook_48 for being the nastiest pitcher on the planet. Oh, and for your first save! thatsnasty Jerry Blevins (@JerryBlevins_13) June 13, 2012@ryancook_48 doing what he does best. Congrats on your first big league save man! Many more to come. Tommy Milone (@TommyMilone_57) June 13, 2012@ryancook_48congratulations on your 1st major league safe man!!! jordan norberto (@jazleen77) June 13, 20121st and 2nd 0 out tying run at the plate? He doesn't care he's @ryancook_48. Congrats on the first big league save boss. baller Andrew Carignan (@A_Carignan38) June 13, 2012Cook's first save opportunity was a sign of change for the A's, who had already removed Grant Balfour from ninth inning duty earlier this season. It now looks like Cook is in line to get more opportunities over Brian Fuentes, who had five saves in seven chances, but gave up two walk-off three-run home runs. Cook has a knack for pitching under pressure. He has stranded a team-best 91.7 of runners on base. He also has the lowest batting average on balls in play in Major League Baseball (.133), and the lowest line drive allowed percentage (8) in the American League. Which in short, means no one can make solid contact against his pitches.
A's manager Bob Melvin has yet to officially name Cook the closer. He has only committed to a saves by committee approach, at this time. If the man known as "Cookie" in the A's clubhouse, can keep whipping up scoreless innings, he may soon have the job won outright, solidifying an important role for this young A's ballclub.What do you think A's fans? Has Oakland founds its new closer?

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s gesture to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night at the Coliseum was no knee-jerk reaction by the A’s catcher.

It was something he’s considered for a long time, balancing his own personal convictions to make a statement with how it might affect his teammates and organization.

Think it was bold of Maxwell to become the first player in baseball to kneel during the anthem, in protest of racial discrimination and the inflammatory remarks of President Trump? It took just as much guts to stand before his teammates, manager Bob Melvin and GM David Forst and explain why he felt he needed to do it.

He did so in a pregame meeting Saturday that made for a degree of discomfort in the room, but also seemed to have played out in a healthy way.

“I didn’t want them to sugarcoat or aid me when it comes to the media and their personal feelings,” Maxwell said, “because the whole point of this is the ability to protest (based on) our personal beliefs and our personal choices.”

Many athletes have been critical of the President, with things intensifying across the sports landscape Saturday after Trump, among other things, withdrew an invitation for the Warriors to visit the White House and harshly criticized athletes who have knelt during the anthem, saying they should be booted off their teams.

After blasting Trump on both Instagram and Twitter, Maxwell took the field for the anthem and took the action that will define him in the eyes of the baseball world. Maxwell had been wanting to make a statement in some way. He said he and his sister dealt with racial discrimination growing up. Watching Trump’s rally play out in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. on Friday further persuaded Maxwell to finally do so.

“This goes beyond the black community, it goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having … a racial divide in all types of people,” said Maxwell, who is African American. “It’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country and it’s basically saying it’s OK to treat people differently. And my kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause. But I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell during the anthem with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a show of support. Canha said he’s considered kneeling before in protest himself but had chosen not to. As he listened to Maxwell address the team, Canha wasn’t going to let his teammate make his statement on his own.

“I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that’s going on in this country right now,” Canha said. “I felt like every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed a brother today.”

Canha added that he sensed some “discomfort” in the room as Maxwell addressed the team. But he also said there was support.

“It was an open forum to ask him questions. It was as articulate as I’ve seen him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t an emotional thing just today for him. … I think he handled it really well and everybody was comfortable after the session. I’m proud of him for the fact he went about it the way he did.”

Maxwell, who was born in Germany while his father served in the Army over there, said he will continue to kneel for the anthem. He doesn’t expect his teammates to do the same, only to stick to what they believe in.

“I have plenty of family members, including my father, who have bled for this country,” Maxwell said. “At the end of the day, this the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized that I am, and will forever be, an American citizen. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.”

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell made history Saturday night in Oakland. The 26-year-old became the first player in big-league history to kneel during the national anthem. 

Below is the official statement from Major League Baseball:

Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together.

MLB media services contributed to this report