MLB notebook: Oakland's Maxwell to stand during anthem

Reuters

Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell released a statement Tuesday saying he no longer intends to kneel for the national anthem.

Maxwell, whose father is a U.S. Army veteran, became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel for the anthem prior to a home game against the Texas Rangers on Sept. 23, 2017. He continued to do so through the remainder of the season with the support of the Athletics and his teammates, particularly Mark Canha, who would stand by Maxwell's side with his hand on the backstop's shoulder.

"Taking a knee during the National Anthem last season was not a decision I made lightly," Maxwell's statement reads, via Julian McWilliams of The Athletic. "As a member of a military family, I respect the sacrifices of the men and women who served and continue to serve our country.

"The purpose of the gesture was to raise awareness about social issues affecting our country, and while I'm looking forward to a society that is inclusive, empathetic and a welcoming place, I will not continue the symbolic gesture of taking a knee during our National Anthem this season."

--Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is penciled in to start his franchise-record eighth season opener when Los Angeles begins its 2018 season.

Assuming the three-time Cy Young Award winner is healthy on Opening Day, he would surpass Don Drysdale and Don Sutton for the most season-opener starts in team history. The last Dodger other than Kershaw to start on Opening Day was Vicente Padilla in 2010.

Kershaw, a seven-time All-Star and 2014 National League MVP, is coming off another excellent season: 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA in 2017. The southpaw has been especially dominant in his Opening Day starts with a 0.99 ERA, 52 strikeouts and just six walks in 45 2/3 innings.

--The Cubs announced the addition of Yu Darvish on Tuesday. News originally broke on Saturday about the right-hander's six-year, $126 million deal with Chicago.

Darvish could earn up to $150 million with incentives over the life of the contract, according to The Athletic, which was the first to report the signing.

The Cubs wanted to bolster the front end of their rotation after losing to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series in 2017. Darvish figures to replace fellow right-hander Jake Arrieta, who remains available on the free agent market.

--Juan Carlos Nunez, who worked for the player representation agency ACES, filed a lawsuit against that company's founders, Seth and Sam Levinson, claiming under-the-table payments were made to players who were also directed to outlets for performance-enhancing drugs.

ACES is one of the largest player agencies in baseball, and clients include All-Stars who have not been linked to PEDs in any way.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported Nunez filed the suit in New York Supreme Court. Nunez seeks $2 million in unpaid commission and $500,000 in fees and expenses. The Levinsons issued a statement Monday denying all responsibility alleged in the suit.

--The San Diego Padres placed left-handed reliever Jose Torres on MLB's restricted list as he faces charges stemming from a domestic-violence incident in December.

Torres was arrested following a dispute at his home in Phoenix in which he allegedly brandished a semiautomatic handgun and pointed it at his victim, knocked a door off its hinges and punched a hole in another door, according to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Torres was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage and making threats or intimidation.

Torres was moved to the restricted list Monday, and the Padres released a statement Tuesday saying they "take this matter very seriously and are fully cooperating with the investigation being conducted by the Commissioner's Office."

--Infielder Chase Utley is returning to the Dodgers for a 16th major league season, according to multiple reports.

Multiple baseball writers with access to the Dodgers' locker room tweeted Tuesday that Utley's gear had arrived in the clubhouse.

Utley, 39, will be playing his third full season for the Dodgers following his long tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies (2003-15). He finished the 2017 season with a .236 batting average, eight home runs and 34 RBIs.

--The Baltimore Orioles avoided arbitration with starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, agreeing to a $5.6 million contract for the 2018 season, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Gausman, 27, was scheduled for his arbitration hearing on Wednesday before coming to an agreement with Baltimore, where he has pitched since reaching the majors in 2013. The right-hander rebounded from a difficult 3-7 start last season to finish 11-12 with a 4.68 ERA, his worst mark since his rookie season.

The five-year veteran compromised at slightly below the midpoint of figures first submitted by player and team a month earlier, with Gausman requesting $6,225,000 and the Orioles proposing a $5.3 million salary.

--Field Level Media

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