Toronto Blue Jays' shortstop Yunel Escobar has been suspended three games without pay by the team for displaying an anti-gay slur on his eye black tape during a major league game on Saturday. Escobar, 29, wrote “tu ere maricon” on top of his his eye black, which can be translated into English as “you are a faggot;” however, it has a number of loose, idiomatic interpretations.

Escobar addressed reporters at a press conference at Yankee Stadium and was joined by Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopolous and team manager John Farrell.

"I'm sorry for the actions of the other day," Escobar told reporters via translator. "It was not something I intended to be offensive. It was something I just put on the sticker on my face as a joke. There was nothing intentional directed at anyone in particular.

"I don't have anything against homosexuals. I have friends who are gay. In reality I'd like to ask for the apologies of all those who have been offended by this."

Major League Baseball players are not allowed to display derogatory words or symbols on their person or uniform, per league rules. Escobar earns a $5 million salary from the Blue Jays and will lose over $92,000 in pay over the next three games. His docked pay will be donated to You Can Play, an organization which promotes equality and tolerance of sexual orientation among athletes, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Escobar must also attend sensitivity training and will take part in outreach programs. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig offered the following statement on the matter:

"I consistently say that Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and that I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game's diverse fan base deserves,” Selig said. “Mr. Escobar has admitted that his actions were a mistake, and I am hopeful he can use this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to educate himself and others that intolerance has no place in our game or society."

Outspoken Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen came to Escobar’s defense. Guillen found himself in a similar situation in 2006 when he was managing the Chicago White Sox and verbally attacked local sports columnist Jay Mariotti with a homophobic slur.

“I think this kid did it without intending to hurt anybody,” Guillen told the Palm Beach Post. “I think he did it just for fun. But in our country we do that.”

Guillen went on to echo sentiments by Escobar that the use of the phrase is different across cultures.

“To be honest with you, in my house we say that word every 20 seconds. I got three kids. It’s HOW you say it,” Guillen added.

Escobar joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010 in a trade from the Atlanta Braves, with whom he began his career in 2005. He is currently batting .251 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs. –Hal Sundt

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