Gurriel homered in the second inning off Darvish, then was caught in the dugout making a slanted-eye gesture as he sat on the bench. Darvish is Japanese. After the Astros’ 5-3 win, Gurriel spoke in front of his locker through an interpreter and said he didn’t mean to offend anybody.
“I didn’t want to offend anybody,” said Gurriel, 33. “I was commenting to my family that I didn’t have any luck against Japanese pitchers here in the United States. I didn’t want to offend anybody in Japan. I have a lot of respect for Japan. I played in Japan.”
The moment in question was caught by the Fox cameras and was quickly shared around the Internet. Gurriel also appeared to say the word “chinito,” amateur lip-readers surmised. Chinito would translate to “little Chinese boy.” When added to the gesture, Gurriel’s action could be interpreted as a racial slur against Asian people.
After the game, Gurriel, who is from Cuba, said: “In Cuba we call everybody who is from Asia, Chino. We don’t call them Japanese or Chinese or Taiwan. We call them Chino.”
Darvish was asked about the gesture too. He called it “disrespectful” and told reporters Gurriel will learn from his mistake. Darvish later released a statement, saying he hopes people can stay positive and move forward.