Maddon respects right to self-expression

Cubs manager responds to questions about national-anthem protests

Maddon respects right to self-expression

MILWAUKEE -- Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell chose to kneel during the national anthem on Saturday in an effort to raise awareness about brutality and injustice at the hands of authorities. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday he does not have a rule for his players and respects individuals' rights to express themselves.

"I don't have [a rule]," Maddon said. "I think that's up to them. I've never really had a policy regarding being out for the anthem or not. A lot of times, guys like to do different things before the game begins. Sometimes you're on the road, you hit later, and you get in later, and your time is at a premium. I've never had a specific theory about the anthem."

Did Maddon anticipate the gesture would continue?

"I have no idea," he said. "We'll wait and see. If it does, that's fine. I have no issues. I'm all into self expression. If a player feels he needs to express himself in that manner, then so be it."

Maxwell's decision came one day after President Donald Trump made reference to NFL players not standing for the anthem as employees who, as he put it, should be fired by their teams and after the president rescinded an invitation to Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors when Curry had said he wouldn't visit the White House for a congratulatory ceremony with Trump.

After learning of the posts by the president and backlash from Curry and fellow superstar LeBron James, among many others, Maddon empathized with the players' views and suggested certain social media banter on topics that merit thoughtfulness and restraint arguably are beneath a commander in chief.

"I understand why the players responded the way they did, after I read the comments," Maddon said. "It's just unfortunate we've arrived at this point where it's so easy to have this dialogue between the highest office in the country and everybody else in such a negative way. That's the part that's really disappointing."

Worth noting

• Lefty Justin Wilson had an impressive relief outing on Saturday, striking out three of the four batters he faced. Getting him on track would be a boost to the Cubs' bullpen.

"There's situations, especially when the other team has lefties coming up and they're going to pinch-hit a righty and you know they're going to do it in advance," Maddon said. "He's so good against the opposite side. It's an easy spot when you see it in the lineup, 'This is a Justin Wilson spot.' If they chose to leave the lefty, you're happy with that, too."

The goal is to use Wilson as a setup pitcher for closer Wade Davis along with right-handers Carl Edwards Jr. and Pedro Strop.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.