You don't often see a player with a sub-two ERA who throws 94-mph from the left side get released. Unless that player requests the release himself. That's exactly what happened with A's prospect Erick Threets who requested and was granted his release by the A's on Saturday. Threets, 30, had a 1.84 ERA this season in 34 games with the River Cats. He had 31 strikeouts and 19 walks. It is common for players this time of the season to ask for their release in order to latch on with a team that might give them a better chance to make it to the majors.Threets is a native of the Bay Area and attended Granada High School in Livermore before going to Modesto Junior College. He was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 7th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft. Threets appeared in 10 games for the Giants from 2007-2008, and 11 games with the White Sox in 2010. In the 2010 season he underwent "Tommy John" surgery and missed the entire 2011 season. Teams will now have the option to sign Threets to a minor league contract, much like the A's just did on Friday with reliever Chris Ray, who asked for his release from the Indians organization last week. The A's signing of Ray, who has 51 career saves, should help provide bullpen depth in the absence of Threets and Brian Fuentes -- who was released by the A's and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
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.”
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