Remy went on to say that the Japanese pitcher should learn “baseball language.”
“I sincerely apologize to those who were offended by my comments during the telecast last night,” he tweeted Wednesday morning. The team had distanced itself from the comments, saying “We do not share the views expressed by Jerry Remy during last night’s broadcast.”
Remy’s remarks came on a day when Phillies broadcaster Mike Schmidt drew criticism for saying that Odubel Herrera, a Spanish-speaking player for Philadelphia, would never be someone “you can build a team around” because of “the language barrier.” Schmidt, a three-time NL MVP and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, subsequently issued an apology, saying, “It’s been made known to me that my answer on a radio interview … was disrespectful to Herrera and Latin players in general. I’m very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone.”
After Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild spoke with Tanaka in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game, Remy said to play-by-play man Dave O’Brien, “I forgot with Tanaka they take out a translator. I don’t think that should be legal.”
When asked by O’Brien about his objection to the interpreter, Remy, who played for the Red Sox and is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame, said, “Learn baseball language. It’s pretty simple. You break it down pretty easy between pitching coach and pitcher after a long period of time.”
O’Brien replied, “I would say that probably they’re concerned about nuance being lost in some of these conversations.”
Remy, a popular figure among Red Sox fans, began working the team’s broadcasts in 1988. When asked about his remarks after Tuesday’s game, the 64-year-old Boston-area native told the Associated Press, “I’ve got no comment on that. Really.”
According to the Institute for Ethics and Diversity in Sport, MLB’s Opening Day rosters this year featured a record-high percentage of players, 29.8, born outside of the United States. They hailed from 19 countries and territories, and while Latino players increased from 28.5 percent in 2016 to 31.9 percent, Asian players increased from 1.7 percent to 1.9 percent.
MLB has been allowing on-field interpreters since 2013, and as of last year, it has required teams to employ full-time Spanish interpreters. On Tuesday, Remy’s assumption that Tanaka and others should learn “baseball language” irked some observers.
Tanaka reportedly speaks English well enough to carry on informal discussions with his Yankee teammates, but according to a 2016 Associated Press story, the team relies on his interpreter, Shingo Horie, “for detailed baseball conversations.” Rothschild told the AP that Horie helps with “the little nuances of the language.”