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Blue Jays hope Escobar's apology is heartfelt

Blue Jays hope Escobar's apology is heartfelt

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Blue Jays hope Escobar's apology is heartfelt
NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays took a stance on Tuesday, sending a message to Yunel Escobar and fans that homophobic slurs -- regardless of the context or intent -- are not tolerated by the team. But there's more work to be done for the 29-year-old shortstop, who was suspended for three games without pay.

One of those things is the professionalism the organization demands of each player that dons the Blue Jays uniform.

"As it relates to our team, there is an understood minimal level of professionalism that you would think would cover how you take the field, how you act," manager John Farrell said. "Something that we talk about repeatedly, to respect the game, also takes into account the fans that come to this game and view the individual players.

"There is a definite role-model responsibility that some guys might not realize or might not want to take on, but it's part of being a Major League player."

Escobar, who was suspended for wearing eye-black stickers on Saturday containing a homophobic slur written in Spanish, often takes the field with messages or words inscribed on his eye black. Farrell has never thought twice about what Escobar writes and admits to having paid no attention to the words the infielder wrote prior to Saturday's game.

But after this incident, that will change.

"Without a doubt, to avoid this in the future," Farrell said when asked if he will be paying attention moving forward. "We have to monitor even that much more closely and to the point of strongly recommending, don't write anything."

Farrell said he was initially surprised and disappointed in Escobar when he heard of the news on Monday afternoon. Escobar, Farrell and general manager Alex Anthopoulos addressed the team prior to Escobar's news conference on Tuesday. In that meeting, Escobar apologized to his teammates, but Carlos Villanueva -- a member of the Players Association -- said an apology doesn't matter unless Escobar learns from his mistakes.

"It might be used among the Latin guys and we joke around, and in our countries it's very macho, but it's not right -- using it as a joke or not," Villanueva said.

"[Escobar] said, 'It's just a simple thing I did.' Well, you know what? No, it's not. It's something you have to know. It shouldn't have to take all this for it to happen to become a big deal."

Like Villanueva, Escobar and veteran Omar Vizquel said the word that cost Escobar three games is used commonly among Latin American players. Farrell said players have to understand that what is tolerated in the clubhouse may not be accepted by the general public.

"No matter what walk of life, there has got to be a view of acceptance and not just make an off-handed comment that might be, in the mind of the individual, harmless," Farrell said. "In this day and age we live in, as information is readily accessible, as video is broadcast everywhere, what you might say in a private conversation, when it is broadcast on your body, you are speaking to the world."

Escobar is not allowed to be at the ballpark while serving his three-game suspension, which will cover Wednesday's doubleheader and Thursday's series finale at Yankee Stadium.

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