Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is eligible to play in the remainder of the World Series but will be suspended for five games next season, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced Saturday.
After hitting a home run in the second inning of Friday's Game 3 off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, Gurriel was seen in the Astros' dugout using his fingers to motion at his own eyes in a mocking gesture. The 33-year-old also appeared to mouth a derogatory term in Spanish.
Gurriel is a native of Cuba who played for the Yokohama DeNA Baystars of the Japanese Central League in 2014. Darvish is of Japanese and Iranian descent.
"During last night's game, I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible. I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it," Gurriel said in a statement. "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."
Gurriel said on Friday that it's common in Cuba to use the word "chinito" to describe someone of Asian heritage, although he admitted he realizes it is considered offensive in Japan.
Darvish took exception to Gurriel's actions on Friday.
"I feel like, of course, Houston has Asian fans and Japanese fans, and Asian fans live all over the place," Darvish said. "And acting like that, it's just disrespectful to people around the world, to the Houston organization. It's not OK.
"Including him and I, nobody's perfect. Everybody's different. We've just got to learn from it. He made a mistake, and we've just got to learn from it. We are all human beings. It's just learn from it, and we've got to move forward."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow supported MLB's decision of a five-game suspension for the 2018 season.
"The Houston Astros were surprised and disappointed by the behavior displayed by Yuli Gurriel during last night's game," Luhnow 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.
"We support Major League Baseball's decision of a five-game suspension for the 2018 season. The Astros will donate Yuli's salary for these five games in equal parts to the Astros Foundation and to a charity directly supporting diversity efforts."