DETROIT -- Tigers television analyst and Hall of Famer Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely from broadcast duties following offensive commentary in regards to Shohei Ohtani during Tuesday’s broadcast on Bally Sports Detroit.
Morris tried to imitate an accent when saying the Tigers should pitch Ohtani carefully when he stepped to the plate in the sixth inning with two outs and the potential go-ahead run on second.
“Bally Sports Detroit is extremely disappointed with the remarks analyst Jack Morris made during last night's Tigers game,” the network said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Jack has been suspended indefinitely from Tigers broadcasts, and will be undergoing bias training to educate him on the impact of his comments and how he can be a positive influence in a diverse community. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination and deeply apologize for his insensitive remark.”
The Tigers issued a statement alongside the network.
“The Detroit Tigers take immense pride in honoring the diverse cultures that make up our players, coaching staff, front office, fanbase and community,” the statement read. “We are deeply disappointed by the comments made by Jack Morris during the broadcast last night. We fully support Bally Sports Detroit’s decision and their on-going commitment to ensure that all personnel are held to the highest standards of personal conduct.”
Morris apologized on air during the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game as Ohtani stepped to the plate.
“It has been brought to my attention, and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially anybody in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani,” Morris said. “I did not intend for any offensive thing, and I apologize if I did. I certainly respect and have the utmost respect for this guy, and don’t blame a pitcher for walking him.”
The comments came as Ohtani prepared to pitch in Detroit for the second time in his career. He worked a career-high eight innings in the Angels' 3-1 win Wednesday night, hitting his MLB-best 40th HR.
Ohtani was asked about Morris’ comments after his performance Wednesday night.
“I did see the footage and I heard it,” he said. “Personally, I'm not offended and I didn't take anything personally. He is a Hall of Famer. He has a big influence in the baseball world. It's kind of a tough spot.”
Ohtani also held Miguel Cabrera, who’s looking for his 500th career home run, to a single on Wednesday. The series has attracted a large following of Japanese media as well as a big fan following.
"I love this sport. This sport is arguably the most diverse sport, certainly of all the four major sports in the U.S., and it should be celebrated,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said before Wednesday’s game when asked about Morris’ comments. “The athletes that we get to celebrate tonight, we're talking about Shohei Ohtani and Miguel Cabrera, the two biggest names that are coming into the game, both vastly different backgrounds from different countries and different parts of the world, and they're part of our great sport. So we need to celebrate that and certainly learn that comments like [Morris’] are not only unnecessary but unwarranted."
Former Tiger Craig Monroe is expected to work alongside play-by-play broadcaster Matt Shepard on Bally Sports Detroit.