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Brandon Phillips: “I’m always gonna be Mr. Cincinnati”

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It’s been over three months since Braves’ second baseman Brandon Phillips ended his 11-year run with the Reds, and he was all smiles on his return to Great American Ball Park on Friday. He tipped his cap for a standing ovation, then struck out swinging on four pitches from Cincinnati right-hander Bronson Arroyo.

Prior to the game, the 35-year-old infielder had a lot to say about his tenure with the Reds, admitting several times that he wished he still had a full-time role with his former club.

“There’s a lot of players that left before I did, and they did a great job here, too,” Phillips told Derek Forrest of WLWT.com. “Some things come to an end, and I wish I was still a Redleg, but I’m happy to play home for the Braves. I’m happy to be where I’m at.”

It’s evident that Phillips still has a great affection for the city and its ball club, citing his properties in Fort Thomas and Covington as proof that he’ll always have a soft spot for his former major league home. If one thing’s still bothering him, however, it’s Scooter Gennett‘s jersey number. While Phillips wasn’t the first one to wear No. 4 — that honor belonged to Harvey Hendrick of the 1932 Reds — he was the only one to wear it for more than a decade.

“I still can’t believe that No. 4… that someone’s wearing my number,” the infielder said. “I think that’s like a slap in my face, too, but it is what it is.”

“I’m wearing Cincinnati on my chest and I’m always gonna be Mr. Cincinnati.”

Watch Phillips’ full comments below:

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.