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Ryan Vogelsong to retire as a Giant

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Ryan Vogelsong signed a minor league contract with the Twins in the offseason but was released before the end of spring training and hasn’t caught on anyplace else. Given that he’s 40, it was pretty safe to assume that his career was over, but today he and the Giants made it official: he’s retiring.

What’s more, he’s retiring as a Giant, as part of a ceremony at AT&T Park this Sunday. The press release from the club lauds Vogelsong as a “home grown player” and a “World Series Champion,” which he most certainly is. The release also notes his “highs and lows,” which is not something you often see in such releases, but which is true for Vogelsong, who had good years and bad years. His best two years came in 2011 and 2012, and he won a second ring with the Giants in 2014.

Vogelsong spent several years with the Pirates too, of course, moving to Pittsburgh in the Jason Schmidt trade in 2001. He signed as a free agent with both the Phillies and Angels but didn’t pitch in the bigs with either club before returning to the Giants. His last season, 2016, was spent back in Pittsburgh though he missed considerable time after he was hit in the eye by a pitch, injuring his eye socket in May. In all, he finishes his career with a record of 61-75, an ERA of 4.48 and 900 strikeouts and 448 walks in 1,190 innings. Seven of his big league seasons came with San Francisco, the other six with Pittsburgh.

It’s hard to have super strong opinions about a guy like Ryan Vogelsong, but something about this press release makes me feel good. There’s something nice about a non-star — indeed, a guy who was below average by most measures, even if he managed to stick around and make one All-Star team — getting a nice little honor and ceremony, just like a bigger name might get. We’re so conditioned to sort players into “Hall of Famer” and “pile of anonymity” after they retire, but gestures like this remind us that a guy who played had some worth and entertained us even if he wasn’t a superstar.

Enjoy your day, Ryan.

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.