Yuli Gurriel apologizes for racial gesture directed at Yu Darvish

HOUSTON — Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel apologized after a controversial moment in Game 3 of the World Series in which he made a racist gesture about Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish.

Gurriel homered in the second inning off Darvish, then was caught in the dugout making a slanted-eye gesture as he sat on the bench. Darvish is Japanese. After the Astros’ 5-3 win, Gurriel spoke in front of his locker through an interpreter and said he didn’t mean to offend anybody.

“I didn’t want to offend anybody,” said Gurriel, 33. “I was commenting to my family that I didn’t have any luck against Japanese pitchers here in the United States. I didn’t want to offend anybody in Japan. I have a lot of respect for Japan. I played in Japan.”

The New York Times is reporting Major League Baseball plans on interviewing Gurriel regarding the gesture, and will consider disciplining the first baseman. Commissioner Rob Manfred is expected to meet with Gurriel on Saturday.

The moment in question was caught by the Fox cameras and was quickly shared around the Internet. Gurriel also appeared to say the word “chinito,” amateur lip-readers surmised. Chinito would translate to “little Chinese boy.” When added to the gesture, Gurriel’s action could be interpreted as a racial slur against Asian people.

After the game, Gurriel, who is from Cuba, said: “In Cuba we call everybody who is from Asia, Chino. We don’t call them Japanese or Chinese or Taiwan. We call them Chino.”

Darvish was asked about the gesture too. He called it “disrespectful” and told reporters Gurriel will learn from his mistake. Darvish later released a statement, saying he hopes people can stay positive and move forward.



Here’s the video of the incident, as captured by Twitter user @CoIIier:


And here’s a screenshot from another angle by Dodgers blogger Chad Moriyama:

Yuli Gurriel after his homer against Yu Darvish. (Screengrab via @ChadMoriyama on Twitter)

It’s unclear what, if any, punishment Gurriel could face from Major League Baseball. Although, we’ve seen the league and its teams take stronger stances against similar attacks this season.

In May, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar was suspended two games for yelling a gay slur at Atlanta Braves reliever Jason Motte after a strikeout. The suspension came from the Jays. Pillar apologized, and donated the salary from his suspension to an LGBTQ charity. 

In August, Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Joyce also received a two-game suspension, this time from MLB, for yelling a homophobic slur at a fan. His salary was also donated to a local LGBTQ group.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!