HOUSTON (AP) — Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros has been suspended for five games next season for making a racist gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during Game 3 of the World Series Friday night.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the penalty Saturday.
Manfred said he didn’t think it would be fair to penalize the rest of the Astros by suspending Gurriel during the World Series. Manfred said he understood other people might take a different view.
Gurriel will miss the first five games of the 2018 season and will not be paid during his suspension.
Gurriel said he didn’t intend to offend Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish when he pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering against him during Houston’s 5-3 win.
“I didn’t try to offend nobody,” Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator. “I was commenting to my family that I didn’t have any luck against Japanese pitchers here in the United States.”
Gurriel released a statement through the team Saturday.
“I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect,” Gurriel wrote.
Gurriel, a 33-year-old from Cuba, made the gesture shortly after homering to start Houston’s four-run second inning. While sitting in the dugout, Gurriel put his fingers to the side of his eyes and said “chinito” — a derogatory Spanish term that translates literally to “little Chinese.”
Darvish was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and an Iranian father. Darvish played professionally in Japan from 2005-11 before joining the Texas Rangers in 2012. He was traded to the Dodgers at this year’s July 31 trade deadline. He was angry about what happened.
Japanese Immigrant And Dodgers Fan Takes Offense To Yuli Gurriel Gesture
“Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world,” he said in Japanese through a translator.
A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the league intends to speak with Gurriel. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league had not publicly addressed the matter. Gurriel may be punished, including a possible suspension during the World Series.
Darvish posted the following statement on Twitter late Friday night.
“No one is perfect. That includes both you and I. What he had done today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, that is a giant step for mankind. Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everyone’s big love. ”
The league has recently suspended players caught using slurs. Toronto’s Kevin Pillar and Oakland’s Matt Joyce were each banned for two games this season after making homophobic comments.
Gurriel said the derogatory term is used commonly in Cuba to refer to Asian people. He said he knows the Japanese are offended by it because he played in Japan in 2014.
“In the moment, I didn’t want to offend him or nobody in Japan because I have a lot of respect for them and I played in Japan,” he said, adding that, “I didn’t mean to do it.”
Gurriel hopes to speak with Darvish about what happened.
“Yes, of course. I want to talk to him because I have nothing against him,” he said. “I think he’s one of the best pitchers in Japan, and I never had success against him. … If he felt offended, I want to apologize to him.”
Gurriel spent 15 years in the Cuban professional league and played in Japan for a year before signing with the Astros last season. Gurriel homered and doubled in Game 3 and is batting .346 in the postseason.
“I know he’s remorseful,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.
Some of Darvish’s former teammates with the Rangers called out Gurriel for his actions on Twitter.
Pitcher Jake Diekman used an emoji to call the gesture trash, and outfielder Ryan Rua said “really hope that gesture from Gurriel wasnt directed towards Yu…no place for that.”
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)