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Maxwell to stop kneeling during anthem

A's catcher was only MLB player to join in symbolic protest last year
MLB.com @JaneMLB

MESA, Ariz. -- Upon his arrival at A's camp on Tuesday, catcher Bruce Maxwell announced he no longer will kneel for the national anthem.

Maxwell, who cited racial injustices when becoming the first Major League Baseball player to take a knee during the anthem last season, issued a statement through the A's: "Taking a knee during the national anthem last season was not a decision I made lightly. 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."

MESA, Ariz. -- Upon his arrival at A's camp on Tuesday, catcher Bruce Maxwell announced he no longer will kneel for the national anthem.

Maxwell, who cited racial injustices when becoming the first Major League Baseball player to take a knee during the anthem last season, issued a statement through the A's: "Taking a knee during the national anthem last season was not a decision I made lightly. 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."

A's manager Bob Melvin called it "a prudent thing for him to do."

"The awareness to what he was trying to get out there is there," he said, "and I think now it's trying to maybe get the spotlight off him a little bit and get down and do what's important to him, which is baseball."

Maxwell drew national attention for his actions but lost momentum when he was arrested in late October for allegedly pointing a gun at a food delivery worker outside of his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was later indicted by a grand jury on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct.

Maxwell hoped to reach a plea deal during Monday's settlement conference but was unable to do so, instead reporting to camp without a resolution. He is on the docket for a second settlement conference April 13; should he fail to reach an agreement, a pretrial conference has been scheduled for Aug. 2, with his trial date set for Aug. 9.

"It's something that me and my lawyers are handling, so I can't openly discuss that," Maxwell said.

Tweet from @JaneMLB: Bruce Maxwell���s statement: pic.twitter.com/NBkvIQwTNj

The A's have been operating under the assumption that Maxwell will be able to put his legal issues behind him ahead of the regular season. They did not add any catchers to their roster this offseason, in part because they have two others on the 40-man: Josh Phegley and Dustin Garneau.

"We're all excited to get between the lines," A's general manager David Forst said. "The legal side of things has not been settled yet, and Bruce still has to deal with that. But as far as the other 58 guys in camp and the rest of the organization, we're focused on the field.

"We have a long history with Bruce. I've talked to him throughout the anthem issue, throughout everything this offseason, so the relationship goes a long way toward making us feel comfortable with him."

Maxwell said he's "been making some climbs mentally," stressing that he aims to enter the season "with a clear mind and a clear head" and downplaying the potential distraction his off-field issues could have on the club.

"At the end of the day, my job here is to play baseball," Maxwell said. "My job here is to be a leader, be a concrete person for these guys on the mound, these guys on the field, so at the end of the day that takes precedent to anything that's going on off the field."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast.

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