HOUSTON — Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros has been suspended for five games next season for making a racist gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the penalty Saturday, a day after Gurriel’s actions during Game 3.
Manfred said he didn’t think it would be fair to penalize the rest of the Astros by suspending Gurriel during the World Series. Manfred said he understood other people might take a different view.
Gurriel will miss the first five games of the 2018 season and will not be paid during his suspension.
Gurriel said he didn't intend to offend Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish when he pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering against him Friday night.
"I didn't try to offend nobody," Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator.
"I was commenting to my family that I didn't have any luck against Japanese pitchers here in the United States."
Gurriel, a 33-year-old from Cuba, made the gesture shortly after homering to start Houston's four-run second inning. While sitting in the dugout, Gurriel put his fingers to the side of his eyes and said "chinito" - a derogatory Spanish term that translates literally to "little Chinese."
Darvish was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Iranian father.
The league has recently suspended other players caught using slurs. Toronto's Kevin Pillar and Oakland's Matt Joyce were each banned for two games this season after making anti-gay comments.
Gurriel said the derogatory term is used commonly in Cuba to refer to Asian people. He said he knows the Japanese are offended by it because he played in Japan in 2014.
"In the moment, I didn't want to offend him or nobody in Japan because I have a lot of respect for them and I played in Japan," he said, adding that, "I didn't mean to do it."
Darvish played professionally in Japan from 2005-11 before joining the Texas Rangers in 2012. He was traded to the Dodgers at this year's July 31 trade deadline. He was angry about what happened.
"Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world," he said in Japanese through a translator.
Gurriel hopes to speak with Darvish about what happened.
"Yes, of course. I want to talk to him because I have nothing against him," he said. "I think he's one of the best pitchers in Japan, and I never had success against him. ... If he felt offended, I want to apologize to him."
Gurriel spent 15 years in the Cuban professional league and played in Japan for a year before signing with the Astros last season.
Gurriel homered and doubled in Game 3 and is batting .346 in the postseason.
"I know he's remorseful," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.
Some of Darvish's former teammates with the Rangers called out Gurriel for his actions on Twitter. Pitcher Jake Diekman used an emoji to call the gesture trash, and outfielder Ryan Rua tweeted: "really hope that gesture from Gurriel wasnt directed towards Yu...no place for that."
Darvish hopes the incident can be a learning experience.
"Nobody's perfect and everybody is different and then ... we just ... have to learn from it," he said. "And then he made a mistake and then we're just going to learn from it. We are all human beings. That's what I'm saying, so just learn from it and we've got to go forward, move forward."
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
© 2017 by The Associated Press