By Kristie Rieken
HOUSTON (AP) — Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is facing possible punishment after making a racist gesture during the World Series.
Gurriel said he didn’t intend to offend Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish when he pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering against him during Houston’s 5-3 win in Game 3 on Friday night.
“I didn’t try to offend nobody,” Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator. “I was commenting to my family that I didn’t have any luck against Japanese pitchers here in the United States.”
Gurriel, a 33-year-old from Cuba, made the gesture shortly after homering to start Houston’s four-run second inning. While sitting in the dugout, Gurriel put his fingers to the side of his eyes and said “chinito” — a derogatory Spanish term that translates literally to “little Chinese.”
Darvish was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Iranian father.
A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the league intends to speak with Gurriel. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league had not publicly addressed the matter. Gurriel may be punished, including a possible suspension during the World Series.
The league has recently suspended players caught using slurs. Toronto’s Kevin Pillar and Oakland’s Matt Joyce were each banned for two games this season after making anti-gay comments.
Gurriel said the derogatory term is used commonly in Cuba to refer to Asian people. He said he knows the Japanese are offended by it because he played in Japan in 2014.
“In the moment, I didn’t want to offend him or nobody in Japan because I have a lot of respect for them and I played in Japan,” he said, adding that, “I didn’t mean to do it.”
Darvish played professionally in Japan from 2005-11 before joining the Texas Rangers in 2012. He was traded to the Dodgers at this year’s July 31 trade deadline. He was angry about what happened.
“Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world,” he said in Japanese through a translator.
“Yes, of course. I want to talk to him because I have nothing against him,” he said. “I think he’s one of the best pitchers in Japan, and I never had success against him. … If he felt offended, I want to apologize to him.”
Gurriel spent 15 years in the Cuban professional league and played in Japan for a year before signing with the Astros last season. Gurriel homered and doubled in Game 3 and is batting .346 in the postseason.
“I know he’s remorseful,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.
Some of Darvish’s former teammates with the Rangers called out Gurriel for his actions on Twitter. Pitcher Jake Diekmanused an emoji to call the gesture trash, and outfielder Ryan Rua said “really hope that gesture from Gurriel wasnt directed towards Yu…no place for that.”
Darvish hopes the incident can be a learning experience.
“Nobody’s perfect and everybody is different and then … we just … have to learn from it,” he said. “And then he made a mistake and then we’re just going to learn from it. We are all human beings. That’s what I’m saying, so just learn from it and we’ve got to go forward, move forward.”
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