The team met with the league and the MLB Players Association before agreeing on the punishment, which will cost Escobar more than $92,000. He is making $5 million this season.
Saturday against the Red Sox, Escobar played with the slur, written in Spanish, on his eye black. Jays season-ticker holder James Greenhalgh captured a photo of the phrase from behind the dugout during the game and posted it on his Twitter account (via Big League Stew), and Monday night, the team and the league both announced they were investigating the incident.
Escobar apologized at a press conference prior to Tuesday’s game against the New York Yankees, but his explanation revealed the casual homophobia that continues to persist in many sports locker rooms and clubhouses.
“I agree with the suspension. I don’t have any problem with that. I’m embarrassed,” the 29-year-old Cuban said through coach Luis Rivera. “I’m sorry for my actions the other day. I don’t have anything against homosexuals. I have friends who are gay.”
But when asked about the world he chose to scrawl across his left cheek, Escobar downplayed its significance.
“It’s just been said around amongst the Latinos,” he said via the Toronto Star. It’s not something that’s meant to be offensive. For us, it didn’t have the significance in the way that’s being interpreted.
“It’s a word used often within teams. It’s a word without meaning.”
Escobar said his salary would be donated to the gay sports advocacy group “You Can Play,” which was founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke. A number of high-profile athletes, including several NHL players, have publicly voiced their support of the group, including numerous NHL teams and players. A portion of Escobar’s pay will also be directed to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, according to an ESPN.com report.
In a statement announcing the suspension, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig commended the Blue Jays for their decision to suspended Escobar and wrote that “conduct by people associated with MLB that shows insensitivity to others simply cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post contained the offending word, which is not the Post’s editorial policy. — CB