Dodgers' Asian-American manager fine with Gurriel penalty

AFP
Roberts, born to an African-American father and Japanese mother, praised Darvish for asking for calm and learning rather than anger for what he called a "disrespectful" gesture.
AFP
AFP

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reacts from the dugout before Game 4 of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, on October 28, 2017.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, the first World Series manager of Asian descent, said on Saturday he supports the decision not to banish Houston's Yuli Gurriel from the World Series over his racist gesture.

Gurriel was given a five-game suspension to be served at the start of the 2018 season on Saturday by Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred for actions on Friday during the Astros' 5-3 home victory over the Dodgers.

But the 33-year-old Cuban, who used his fingertips to pull the outer edges of his eyes in a dugout gesture aimed at Dodgers' Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish and was caught on television cameras, will not miss any World Series games.

"I'm happy the commissioner of Major League Baseball dealt with it very swiftly," said Roberts. "It gives us all some closure in the sense that it was something that happened. The way that it was dealt with I support."

Roberts, born to an African-American father and Japanese mother, praised Darvish for asking for calm and learning rather than anger for what he called a "disrespectful" gesture.

"The way Yu responded, on camera, through social media, I completely commend him, support him, echo his thoughts that we need to learn from this. It's obviously not acceptable," Roberts said.

"Speaking for the players, the coaches, the Dodgers, just really trying to get back to focusing on baseball... I think the focus should be on the games."

The Astros led the best-of-seven championship final 2-1 after Friday's triumph, in which Gurriel's solo home run ignited a four-run Houston second inning that chased Darvish from the mound after 1 2/3 innings, the shortest start of his career.

Gurriel, who must undergo sensitivity training in addition to missing games, is remorseful about his actions, Astros manager AJ Hinch said

"My feeling on the ruling is we owe the respect to the commissioner's office at the highest level that he's spoken on behalf of the whole sport," Hinch said. "I understand the gravity of this type of things and I have great remorse that it involved our team.

"Yuli has great remorse and I appreciate that out of him. It's very personal for me with Dave Roberts and his family heritage and Yu. We had Nori Aoki on this team earlier this season and we know how diverse our sport is. And so we support everything that's right about this game and we'll move forward, if everyone will allow us to."

That could be an issue, with many seeing Gurriel's escape from a World Series ban as an escape from serious punishment.

"Knowing Yuli, knowing what he will do to convince everyone that this incident was not in his heart, will be key," Hinch said. "How everybody else responds to the cultural diversity that is our sport will all be governed by the commissioner's office and we'll support and continue to try to educate everyone."

Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, set to start Sunday's fifth game, vowed Gurriel's action will not be a distraction for the team.

"Under no circumstance is that going to be a distraction," Keuchel said. "I firmly believe he's going to come out and play like he has.

"Guys make mistakes and we need to move on. He's very sorry for what he did, I know that. Yuli is a guy that I can call my friend and somebody that would never want to disrespect anybody. He knows he made a mistake and he's very sorry for it.

"Yu was very commendable and wants to move on, as well. So hopefully we'll put this past us and learn from it."

AFP

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish looks on during warm ups before Game 4 of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, on October 28, 2017. The Dodgers won the game 6-2 to tie the series at 2-2.

Gurriel said on Friday that he wanted to meet with Darvish to express his regret. Manfred said there would be a private apology, The Associated Press reported.

"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," he said.

Gurriel will lose US$322,581 of his US$12 million salary next year, which the Astros will donate to charitable causes.

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".

The 33-year-old Gurriel played in Japan in 2014 and is completing his second season in the major leagues after leaving Cuba.

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.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team was "surprised and disappointed" by Gurriel's behavior and supported Manfred's decision.

"Yuli has always demonstrated respectful behavior 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."

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

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