Detroit won't re-sign Johnny Damon; Ordonez to become FA

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Speaking before Sunday’s season finale, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said he would not re-sign Johnny Damon or Gerald Laird this winter and that Magglio Ordonez’s $15 million option would be declined.
Dombrowski also indicated that it was unlikely Jeremy Bonderman would be back, but that the team was in talks with fellow free-agent-to-be Brandon Inge about a multiyear deal.
The closest thing to a surprise here is that the Tigers are ruling out Damon, who declined a trade to the Red Sox in August in part because he was happy in Detroit. Damon has given the Tigers their $8 million worth this year while hitting .271/.355/.401 with 11 steals in 536 at-bats.
Ordonez’s option was sure to be declined, but the Tigers will have some interest in re-signing him to a smaller deal. The 36-year-old hit .303/.378/.474 in 323 at-bats before going down with an ankle injury this year.
Getting more athletic in the outfield will likely be a priority for Detroit this winter. Austin Jackson looks like a Gold Glove-quality center fielder, but it’d still help to have him surrounded by better defenders than Damon and Ordonez. Brennan Boesch could play left or right regularly, but he doesn’t figure to be handed a job after his extremely rough second half. The Tigers figure to bring in at least one veteran outfielder this winter even if they re-sign Ordonez.
The other matters were pretty clear cut. Inge, who is finishing up a four-year, $24 million contract, won’t get such a long deal this time, but he might command a similar annual salary. The Tigers like his play at third base even though his offensive numbers don’t really stack up. Laird was sure to be forced out, and the team will find someone else to pair with young Alex Avila in 2011. Bonderman may be offered a minor league deal to return and battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, but he’ll surely seek guaranteed money elsewhere.

Bruce Maxwell is the first MLB player to take a knee during the 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.