MILWAUKEE -- A tearful Josh Hader addressed Brewers teammates on Friday afternoon to apologize and explain as best he could the offensive tweets -- sent as a teenager -- that were exposed during the All-Star Game.Three hours later, as the Brewers prepared to begin the second half against the Dodgers
MILWAUKEE -- A tearful Josh Hader addressed Brewers teammates on Friday afternoon to apologize and explain as best he could the offensive tweets -- sent as a teenager -- that were exposed during the All-Star Game.
Three hours later, as the Brewers prepared to begin the second half against the Dodgers at Miller Park, those teammates had his back. As Hader stood before local media for the first time, a group that included the Brewers' four African-American players -- Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, Eric Thames and Keon Broxton -- filed in behind Hader as he answered questions.
"This isn't me. I hope that people who I've touched and came across, they know who I really am," Hader said. "I've made mistakes. I'm not perfect. I've grown as a person. Baseball really helped me grow."
The 24-year-old left-hander expressed similar sentiments in a 2:30 p.m. CT team meeting following several hours with MLB vice president Billy Bean, who has counseled players in times of crisis as Ambassador for Inclusion -- a title now held by Curtis Pride -- and has since been promoted. Their sit-down began Hader's league-mandated sensitivity training.
Hader said he did not remember writing the series of racist, sexist and homophobic tweets that appeared on his timeline in 2011 and '12, before he was drafted by the Orioles out of high school in Millersville, Md.
"I [have] regret for mistakes that I made in the past, and that doesn't resemble the person that I am now," Hader said. "That's not my beliefs at all. And it's tough, because for people that I've hurt by those tweets, that's not something I want to do."
Asked again what had changed in the past seven years to change his beliefs, Hader said, "They were never my beliefs. I was young. I was saying stuff out of just ignorance and that's just not what I meant."
Bean said Friday marked the start of Hader's sensitivity training. Hader also will participate in MLB's diversity and inclusion initiatives.
"[I met] a young man who is in a tremendous amount of pain, and I sympathize for him tremendously," Bean said. "I was really proud of him today for how he wanted to convey that he feels like he let his teammates down. He wants to repair that more than anything. ...
"I was really convinced after a couple of hours today -- much longer than we expected -- that his experience as an athlete and a professional in an integrated and diverse environment has created the person he is today."
Bean added, "We can't fix everything today."
The teammates who spoke out in support of Hader on Friday included All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich, who had the locker next to Hader's at Nationals Park for Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Along with Cain, Jeffress and Jesus Aguilar, they traveled with Hader on a quiet flight home from Washington on Wednesday morning.
"Everything that you have known about the guy, every interaction, there has been no sign of anything like that," Yelich said. "It's something that happened and needs to be addressed. His commentary in those tweets was tough. Where we're at today in this society is far past that, and he regrets it. As teammates we need to acknowledge that it was wrong, but we also need to be there to support him because he's been there for us."
Brewers manager Craig Counsell characterized Hader's address to teammates as "heartfelt."
"He's emotional, very remorseful," Counsell said. "In [the clubhouse], really, he's asking for support. He's asking because he's hurting."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.