HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said prior to Sunday's regular-season home finale at Minute Maid Park that his players are well aware of the protests being staged in the NFL and by A's rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell during the national anthem and that he supports his players' rights to do the same.
"Obviously, sports brings a lot of things to the forefront of people," Hinch said. "I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud to have the rights we have. I know who's fought for those rights and I know they're very meaningful to everybody in our clubhouse and around our sport. The other issues are all very personal for everybody, and I wish everybody would respect the right that we can all have the same rights but yet disagree and work towards a common goal and a better world.
"The No. 1 thing for me is we've got a lot to do. I've seen that through the Hurricane Harvey here and I've seen a city galvanized and come together and all the work we've done and all the work citizens of Houston have done to help one another. It's happened in Puerto Rico, it's happened in South Florida, Dominican. There's ways to make the world better and I think we focus on that, we'll be better for it."
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the anthem protest last year, and it has spread throughout the NFL. On Friday, President Donald Trump made reference to players not standing for the anthem as employees who, as he put it, should be fired by their teams. Maxwell, an African-American, took a knee during the national anthem on Saturday and Sunday, and intends to continue to do so in an attempt to raise awareness about brutality and injustice at the hands of authorities.
Hinch said the day-to-day component of baseball lends itself to less demonstration.
"We're out here every single day and obviously in some ways it depends on what's important to the players and what's important to the cause and people have different ways of expressing themselves," he said. "Obviously, I have a ton of support for our players and anything they have on their minds, they're welcome to share."
Hinch said pregame Sunday he wasn't aware of any of his players who planned to protest, but he said it wouldn't surprise him.
"The biggest thing is players around our league are socially aware and they care a lot," he said. "Whether you're an American citizen or you're not, diversity in our sport has been a topic for a long, long time and continues to be a topic for a lot of reasons."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.