(HOUSTON) — Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros was suspended Saturday for the first five games of next season for making a racist gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.
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 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 offseason.
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 behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night.”
“There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable,” he said.
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 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.”