Link-O-Rama: Maybe the Giants can get a refund on Sanchez

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* Freddy Sanchez has missed 23 of 48 games since being traded to San Francisco, managing a measly .619 OPS when his shoulder was healthy enough for him to be in the lineup, and had to be helped off the field last night after twisting his left knee. Suddenly the decision to exercise his $8.1 million option for 2010 isn’t such a no-brainer for the Giants.
* Twins shortstop prospect Trevor Plouffe delivered a walk-off homer yesterday as the United States defeated Australia in the World Cup, giving them the top seed for the tournament’s final round. Also advancing to the eight-team final round are Venezuela, Cuba, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
* The bad news is that Brett Tomko has been shut down for the season in the midst of his best pitching in years. The good news is that he finishes with an ERA below 4.00 for the first time since he was a 24-year-old rookie in 1997.
* Josh Hamilton is hoping to return from his back injury by the end of this week, but Michael Young may struggle to play again this season after testing his injured hamstring with some light jogging yesterday.
* In the wake of Cecil Cooper being fired as Astros manager yesterday, Tony La Russa reflected on his 14 years at the helm in St. Louis and indicated that he plans to return in 2010. La Russa is the second-longest-tenured manager in baseball behind Bobby Cox’s two decades in Atlanta.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.