HOUSTON — Though he wasn’t scheduled to address the media like this prior to Game 4, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred took the podium to discuss the situation surrounding Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel on Saturday afternoon in Minute Maid Park. Manfred announced that Gurriel will be suspended without pay for five games during the 2018 regular season. Obviously, the big news here is Gurriel not being suspended during the World Series.
On that note, Manfred said he felt it was unfair to punish Gurriel’s 24 active teammates for his individual actions during the World Series. Manfred also said it was important for Gurriel to take a hit in the salary department, and that only happens during the regular season. Further, delaying the suspension would give Gurriel his full right to appeal. The MLB Players Association has announced that Gurriel will not appeal, however.
“There is no question that it is a difficult decision as to when the right timing was,” Manfred said. “I used my best judgment.”
Gurriel homered off Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish in the second inning of Game 3, then could be seen laughing while he made a gesture that was deemed offensive to Asians. He also could be seen saying “chinito,” which is a Spanish slang term that essentially means “little Chinese person.”
After the game, Gurriel had the following to say, via a translator:
“I didn’t want to offend anybody. I don’t want to offend him or anybody in Japan. I have a lot respect. I played in Japan.”
“In Cuba, we call everybody who’s from Asia, ‘China.’ … I know it is offensive to them and they don’t like that, but I didn’t mean to do it.”
Manfred said the commissioner’s office and players association are in agreement that “there is no place in our game” for Gurriel’s actions.
Darvish offered this statement after the game:
During the press conference Saturday, Manfred specifically pointed out that how Darvish handled the situation carried great weight with him. It’s possible this helped Manfred to decide to not have the suspension during the World Series.
The Astros have released the following statement on the matter:
“The Houston Astros were surprised and disappointed by the behavior displayed by Yuli Gurriel during last night’s game. The Astros and Major League Baseball pride ourselves on the diversity of our sport and in showing great respect to all cultures represented by our players, front office staff, fans and members of the media.
“Yuli has always demonstrated respectful behavior and is extremely remorseful for his actions. Appropriately, Yuli has apologized for his gesture. He had no intention of offending anyone, but now recognizes the perceived offensiveness of his actions.
“We support Major League Baseball’s decision of a five-game suspension for the 2018 season. The Astros will donate Yuli’s salary for these five games in equal parts to the Astros Foundation and to a charity directly supporting diversity efforts.”
Gurriel Saturday released the following statement:
“During last night’s game, I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible. 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.”
Game 4 of the World Series is set for 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday night. Expect Gurriel to be hitting fifth and playing first base, as usual. His Astros have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series against the Dodgers.