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 after the lead of many NFL players.

He spoke Tuesday as the A’s pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Mesa, Ariz., and opted to also put out a statement to keep his thoughts concise.

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.”

Orioles retain pitcher

The Baltimore Orioles avoided an arbitration hearing with pitcher Kevin Gausman, agreeing to a $5.6 million, one-year contract.

Gausman had asked for $6,225,000 and the Orioles had submitted $5.3 million when proposed salaries were swapped last month, making the settlement $162,500 below the midpoint. He earned $3.45 million last year in his first of four arbitration-eligible seasons.

His deal includes bonuses of $50,000 each for 25, 30, 33 starts; $50,000 if he makes the All-Star team; and $50,000 if he earns a Gold Glove.

Gausman, 27, went 11-12 with a 4.68 ERA last season, making a career-high 34 starts with a personal-best 179 strikeouts.

Darvish finalizes deal

Pitcher Yu Darvish and the Chicago Cubs finalized their $126 million, six-year contract, by far the largest deal in a slow-moving free-agent market.

The agreement announced Tuesday topped outfielder Lorenzo Cain’s $80 million, five-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.

In addition, the Los Angeles Angels gave outfielder Justin Upton a $106 million, five-year contract in November before he could become a free agent.

A four-time All-Star, Darvish finished last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, helping them knock out the defending champion Cubs in the playoffs to reach the World Series.

Romo stays with Rays

Free-agent reliever Sergio Romo finalized a $2.5 million, one-year contract to remain with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The deal includes a $250,000 assignment bonus if the right-hander is traded.

Romo was 3-1 with 3.56 ERA in 55 games with the Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, including 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 25 games after being acquired by Tampa last July.

Romo, who turns 35 on March 4, spent the first nine seasons of his big-league career with San Francisco. He has 84 saves, all with the Giants.

Kershaw to start

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says Clayton Kershaw will make his team-record eighth Opening Day start, against the visiting San Francisco Giants on March 29.

Kershaw turns 30 on March 19. He is tied with Don Drysdale and Don Sutton at seven Opening Day starts. Kershaw was 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA last year.

He wasted a four-run lead and was chased in the fifth inning of a 13-12, 10-inning loss to the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the World Series, leaving Los Angeles in a 3-2 World Series deficit. The Astros won in seven games.

Spokesman quits

Greg Bouris resigned as director of communications for the Major League Baseball Players Association after 19 years.

Union head Tony Clark said in a preapred statement that Bouris “was a consummate communications professional, who handled his duties with the utmost professionalism, dedication, and commitment.”

Minor-league contract

Left-hander Craig Breslow agreed to a minor-league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and will attend major-league spring training.

The 37-year-old reliever pitched for the Minnesota Twins and Indians last year, going 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in 37 games.

He is 23-30 with a 3.45 ERA in 12 big-league seasons.