MLB suspends player for making 'offensive gesture' during World Series game

Yuli Gurriel will have to sit out for making a racist gesture toward Yu Darvish — but not during the World Series.

CBC Sports Update: Astros’ Yuli Gurriel makes racist gesture towards Yu Darvish3:05

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the penalty Saturday, a day after Gurriel’s actions during Game 3.

Manfred acknowledged some people believed Gurriel should have served an immediate ban.

“I wanted the burden of this discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer,” he said. “I was impressed in my conversation with Yu Darvish by his desire to move forward, and I felt that moving the suspension to the beginning of the season would help in that regard.”

The 33-year-old Gurriel, completing his second season in the major leagues after leaving Cuba, will lose $ 322,581 US of his $ 12 million salary next year, which the Astros will donate to charitable causes. The first baseman will be required to undergo sensitivity training during the off-season.

Immediately after the game, Darvish said he was angry.

“Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world,” he said in Japanese through a translator.

Darvish later tweeted “let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger.”

‘I deeply regret it’

Gurriel pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering off Darvish during Houston’s 5-3 win in Game 3 on Friday night. He also used a derogatory Spanish term in reference to Darvish.

“I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible,” Gurriel said in a statement released by the Astros. “I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it. I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game.”

Said Manfred: “There is no place in our game for the behaviour or any behaviour like the behaviour we witnessed last night.”

“There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behaviour acceptable,” he said.

The 33-year-old Gurriel played in Japan in 2014.

Darvish was born to a Japanese mother and an Iranian father. The four-time all-star played professionally in Japan from 2005-11 before joining the Texas Rangers in 2012. He was sent to the Dodgers at this year’s July 31 trade deadline.

Controversial decision

Manfred decided against imposing a suspension during the World Series, which the Astros led 2-1. Game 4 was Saturday night.

“I understand that people may have different views. But it was my best judgment that this timing was appropriate,” Manfred said.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team was “surprised and disappointed” by Gurriel’s behaviour and supported Manfred’s decision.

“Yuli has always demonstrated respectful behaviour and is extremely remorseful for his actions,” Luhnow said. “Appropriately, Yuli has apologized for his gesture. He had no intention of offending anyone, but now recognizes the perceived offensiveness of his actions.”

Gurriel will bat fifth in the Astros’ lineup this evening.

Previous suspensions

MLB suspended two players this season for using slurs. Toronto’s Kevin Pillar and Oakland’s Matt Joyce each were banned two games this season after making anti-gay comments. In 2012, Toronto infielder Yunel Escobar was penalized two games for a gay slur.

“That precedent is not adequate to deal with the current situation,” Manfred said. “I’ve decided to go beyond that precedent as a statement of our disapproval of this behaviour.”

Manfred would not compare Gurriel’s actions with the Cleveland Indians’ decision to keep using their Chief Wahoo logo, which has been criticized by Native Americans and others.

“I see a difference between behaviour from one player directed specifically at a player and a logo,” he said. “While both are problematic, I don’t see them as the same issue. We continue to have conversations with the Indians about the logo, and it’s an issue I intend to deal with in the off-season.”

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