HOUSTON (Reuters) - Houston’s Yuli Gurriel will not miss any World Series games for the racist gesture he made toward Dodgers’ Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish but will serve a five-game ban next season, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Saturday.
After hitting a home run off Darvish to put the Astros ahead of Los Angeles early in Friday’s Game Three, the 33-year-old Cuban was caught on camera using his hands to make a slanted-eye gesture while in the dugout.
“There is no place in our game for the behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night,” Manfred told a news conference before Saturday’s Game Four in Houston.
“There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable.”
Manfred met with Gurriel, who apologized after the game, and said the Astros first baseman reiterated his remorse and assured the commissioner that he would be offering a private apology to Darvish.
As part of the punishment, Gurriel will undergo sensitivity training during the offseason while the Astros, in a gesture of support, have agreed to donate Gurriel’s salary for the five games to charitable causes.
Manfred said part of his decision to not suspend Gurriel during the World Series was because he felt it was unfair to punish the other Astros players.
After the game, Darvish called the gesture by Gurriel disrespectful but said he still respected his opponent and that everyone should use it as a learning opportunity.
“He has handled this entire difficult situation in an exemplary way,” Manfred said of Darvish. “Especially noteworthy is his expressed view that we should all use this negative incident as an opportunity for learning and deeper understanding.”
Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who was not involved with the Gurriel discipline other than “a couple of conversations here and there” said the team owed respect to Manfred at the highest level as he had spoken on behalf of the whole sport.
“I understand the gravity of this type of thing,” said Hinch. “And I have great remorse that it involved our team. And Yuli has great remorse, and I appreciate that out of him.”
Dodgers manger Dave Roberts said he was happy that Manfred dealt with the issue swiftly so that the focus can get back to playing baseball.
“It gives us all some closure in the sense that it was something that happened,” said Roberts.
“The way that it was dealt with I support. The way that Yu responded, ... I completely commend him, support him, echo his thoughts that we need to learn from this. It’s obviously not acceptable. But, again, just echoing what Yu said.”
Houston lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Reporting by Frank Pingue, editing by Gene Cherry/Peter Rutherford