Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games Tuesday by the Blue Jays for wearing an eye-black sticker displaying an anti-gay slur written in Spanish during a game last weekend against Boston.
Escobar apologized to his team and “to all those who have been offended” for what he said was meant to be “just a joke.”
“It was not something I intended to be offensive,” he said through a translator. “It was not anything intended to be directed at anyone in particular.”
Escobar said he wrote the message 10 minutes before Saturday’s home game on his eye-black, a sticker players wear under their eyes to reduce sun glare. The 29-year-old Cuban said he frequently puts messages there – usually inspirational, manager John Farrell offered – and had never previously written that specific slur.
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Escobar insisted the word is often used within teams and by Latinos and “I didn’t see it as something bad at the time.”
“I don’t have anything against homosexuals,” he said, adding he didn’t mean for the term to be “misinterpreted” by the gay community.
The suspension was to have started Tuesday, but the game between Toronto and New York was rained out.
Escobar’s lost salary during the ban – about $82,000 – will be directed to two advocacy groups, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and You Can Play.
Escobar will also take part in an outreach initiative to promote tolerance to others based on their sexual orientation, and participate in a sensitivity training program.
Dusty Baker reached another milestone in his long major league career Tuesday when he managed his 3,000th game, guiding the Cincinnati Reds against one of his former teams, the Chicago Cubs.
Baker, 63, has managed the Reds since 2008 and has put Cincinnati in position to win its second NL Central title in three years.
He also coached the San Francisco Giants from 1993-2002 and the Chicago Cubs from 2003-2007.
Angels slugger Albert Pujols was out of the lineup for a game against the Rangers. He was in Kansas City with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s fifth child on Sunday. … Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was examined by a hip specialist who said the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner can continue to pitch without risking damage to his sore right hip. The team is keeping Kershaw sidelined in case the pain persists. … Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza has strep throat and will miss today’s start. … Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be out until Friday with a strained muscle in his side. … The Blue Jays reached a two-year deal with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons of the International League. Toronto’s former Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League, signed a two-year contract with the New York Mets on Monday.