Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar may be facing disciplinary action from Major League Baseball after playing Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox with what appears to be a homophobic slur written in Spanish under his eyes.
Several pictures posted online show Mr. Escobar with the message written on his eye black – in this instance a sticker worn to reduce the glare from the sun.
The words under Mr. Escobar’s eyes were “TU ERE MARICON,” which can be translated as “You are a faggot.” Other possible translations of the phrase lack the homophobic connotation, but are nevertheless offensive.
Mr. Escobar, a 29-year-old native of Havana, Cuba, has been seen at other games this season with different Spanish phrases written on his eye black.
It is unclear if Mr. Escobar wrote the words himself, or if the shortstop is the victim of a tasteless prank.
Pat Courtney, baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s chief spokesman, said the commissioner’s office was “looking into the matter.”
The Blue Jays – already dealing with a season of on-field disappointment – denounced the player’s actions in a statement Monday night: “The Toronto Blue Jays do not support the discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday’s game. The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter.”
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos did not return e-mail messages Monday night.
The Blue Jays had the day off before opening a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, and media relations director Jay Stenhouse said that Mr. Escobar and Mr. Anthopoulos would join manager John Farrell to address the media before the game.
The photos stirred up controversy on Twitter and numerous sports blogs, and Mr. Escobar was trending on Twitter by early Monday evening. Twitter user @AmandaBlake9 said, “I’m ashamed to think that anyone on the @BlueJays allowed him to take the field with this on his face.”
In April, 2011, MLB suspended Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell for two weeks after he made gestures, perceived to be homophobic, towards fans at a game in San Francisco against the Giants.
Mr. Escobar, a Cuban émigré, was acquired by the Blue Jays in a trade with the Atlanta Braves on July 14, 2010. His attitude was called into question by the Braves, and while he is an excellent defensive shortstop, he has been inconsistent at the plate this season with the Blue Jays despite hitting in the middle of the lineup.