HOUSTON -- Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel received a five-game suspension without pay for an offensive gesture directed at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during Game 3 of the World Series, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Saturday afternoon. Gurriel will not miss any World Series games, and his suspension will begin at the start of the 2018 season. He played first base and batted fifth, going 0-for-3, in Saturday's Game 4 at Minute Maid Park, which the Dodgers won, 6-2, to even the Series at two games apiece.
In addition to the lost time and lost pay in 2018, Gurriel will undergo sensitivity training during the offseason, and the Astros will donate his pay for those five games to charitable causes supporting diversity efforts, Manfred announced.
• Full transcript of Commissioner Manfred's media session
"There is complete unanimity -- me, my office, both owners, both clubs and the MLBPA -- that there is no place in our game for the behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed [Friday] night," Manfred said. "There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable."
Gurriel made the gesture following his homer off Darvish in the second inning of Game 3, and he appeared to mouth the word "Chinito," which is translated as "little Chinese boy." Gurriel, a native of Cuba who played for one year in Darvish's native Japan, apologized after the game for his behavior and did so again on Saturday via a statement released by the Astros.
"During last night's game, I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible," Gurriel said. "I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it. I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game."
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In a tweet following Friday's game, a 5-3 Astros win, Darvish expressed a desire to move on from the incident.
"No one is perfect," Darvish wrote. "That includes both you and I. What he [did] today isn't right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something for this, this is a giant step for mankind. Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let's stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I'm counting on everyone's big love."
Manfred said Darvish handled the situation in "an exemplary way," and he took Darvish's desire to move forward into account with his ruling on the suspension. Noting that MLB has unfortunate precedent in this area (Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar received a two-game suspension earlier this year for an anti-gay slur), Manfred said he went beyond the precedent with the five-game suspension and outlined four points as to why the suspension will take place in 2018 and not during the World Series:
1. Manfred felt it was important that the suspension carry the penalty of lost salary, which would happen only during the regular season.
2. Manfred felt it was "unfair to punish the other 24 players on the Astros' roster" during the World Series. "I wanted the burden of the discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer," he said.
3. Impressed by Darvish's desire to move forward, Manfred felt starting the suspension at the beginning of next season would help.
4. Delaying the suspension would allow Gurriel to exercise his rights under the grievance procedures negotiated between MLB and the MLB Players Association, if he so desired. In the time since Manfred made his decision, he has gotten the sense that Gurriel will not be appealing the suspension.
"The Houston Astros were surprised and disappointed by the behavior displayed by Yuli Gurriel during last night's game," the club said in a statement. "The Astros and Major League Baseball pride ourselves on the diversity of our sport and in showing great respect to all cultures represented by our players, front office staff, fans and members of the media.
"Yuli has always demonstrated respectful behavior and is extremely remorseful for his actions. Appropriately, Yuli has apologized for his gesture. He had no intention of offending anyone, but now recognizes the perceived offensiveness of his actions."