Oakland catcher Bruce Maxwell says he no longer will kneel for the national anthem this season after became the first major leaguer to do so following the lead of many NFL players. He spoke as A's pitchers and catchers reported to spring training

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 file photo, Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell takes a knee during the national anthem next to teammates Mark Canha, right, and Raul Alcantara before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell says he will no longer kneel for the national anthem as he did last season as a rookie, when he became the first major leaguer to do so following the lead of many NFL players. He spoke Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 as the A’s pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

- Associated Press
Wednesday, February 14th 2018, 19:51 pm EDT

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell says he no longer will kneel for the national anthem as he did last season as a rookie, when he became the first major leaguer to do so following the lead of many NFL players.

He spoke Tuesday as the A's pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in the desert and opted to also put out a statement to keep his thoughts concise and clear.

He says "the purpose of the gesture was to raise awareness about social issues affecting our country, and while I'm looking forward to a society that is inclusive, empathetic and a welcoming place, I will not continue the symbolic gesture of taking a knee during our national anthem this season."

Maxwell was arrested in Arizona in late October after a food delivery person alleged he pointed a gun at her. The A's plan to start him at catcher despite the off-field issues.

Maxwell says "taking a knee during the national anthem last season was not a decision I made lightly. As a member of a military family, I respect the sacrifices of the men and women who served and continue to serve our country."

The 27-year-old hit .237 with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 76 games last season.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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