Everyone insists Johan Santana is healthy despite 7.98 ERA

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Johan Santana got rocked for eight runs in 1.1 innings Saturday in his return from the disabled list and now has a 7.98 ERA in nine starts since throwing a no-hitter against the Cardinals on June 1.

Since racking up 134 pitches while making history Santana has allowed 39 runs in 44 innings, serving up 11 homers and a .328 opponents’ batting average while failing to make it beyond five innings in six of his nine starts.

And yet everyone, including Santana, continues to insist that the former Cy Young winner is healthy. Here’s what manager Terry Collins told Conor Orr of the Newark Star Ledger:

I’m planning on, certainly, in five days, seeing him back out there. Any conversations we have about the future, that’s going to be down the road. They’re not gonna be right now. I think Johan’s shoulder is fine, we’ll take a look at him after a few more starts and decide how he’s feeling… but right now, according to me, I have no plans of shutting Johan Santana down.

Here’s the thing, though: Either he’s hurt or he’s just terrible. And which is better, really?

It’s like someone being a complete jerk at a party, making a fool of himself and harassing everyone, and then insisting that he’s not even drunk. OK fine, you’re not drunk, but doesn’t that just mean you’re a huge (sober) jerk? And in Santana’s case, if he’s truly not pitching through more arm problems and still has a 7.98 ERA in his last nine starts … well, that’s hardly any less disturbing.

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.