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Report: George Springer received unspecified punishment for use of homophobic slur

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During a seven-game homestand that included a three-game set versus the Twins, Astros outfielder George Springer was seen shouting a homophobic slur at umpire Ángel Hernández. Dawn Ennis of Outsports reports that Major League Baseball punished Springer in an as yet unknown way for his outburst.

On April 23, in the bottom of the eighth inning facing Tyler Duffey, Springer took a called strike three that he thought was ball four. Unhappy with Hernández’s call, Springer tossed his bat and argued with the umpire, appearing to say, “Ángel! That’s the same pitch you just called a ball.” Once he returned to the dugout, TV cameras happened to be on Springer when he clearly yelled, “F–king c–ksucker!” at Hernández.

MLB’s history of punishing players for the use of slurs is a bit spotty. The most apropos comparison would be when the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel was suspended for the first five games of the 2018 regular season after making a racist comment and gesture towards Yu Darvish, then with the Dodgers, after homering in Game 3 of the 2017 World Series.

Matt Joyce, then with the Athletics, was suspended two games by MLB for using a homophobic slur responding to a heckler in August 2017. The Blue Jays suspended outfielder Kevin Pillar for shouting a homophobic slur at Braves reliever Jason Motte in May 2017.

What is clear is that Springer wasn’t suspended. He started each of the next five games following the incident, then pinch-hit and finished out the game on April 29, and started again on the 30th, leading us to today. Springer’s punishment must have been a fine and/or a commitment to attend sensitivity training. He should have been suspended, though, especially given recent precedent and MLB’s increasing commitment to diversity.

Indians send down Clevinger, Plesac after virus blunder

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CLEVELAND — After hearing Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac explain their actions, the Cleveland Indians sent the pitchers to their alternate training site on Friday after the two broke team rules and Major League Baseball coronavirus protocol last weekend in Chicago.

Clevinger and Plesac drove to Detroit separately with their baseball equipment on Thursday for an “open forum” meeting at the team’s hotel before the Indians opened a series with the Tigers.

Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said following “the discussion” that he met with manager Terry Francona, general manager Mike Chernoff and decided it was best to option Plesac and Clevinger to the alternate training site instead of allowing them to rejoin the team.

“We had a chance to meet as small group and decided this would be the best path of action for us,” Antonetti said.

So before the opener, the Indians activated Clevinger and Plesac from the restricted list and optioned them to Lake County.

It’s a stunning slide for the right-handers and close friends, both considered important pieces for the Indians. There’s no indication when they may be back on Cleveland’s roster. They’ll have to be at Lake County for at least 10 days.

Last weekend, the pitchers broke the team’s code of conduct implemented during the pandemic by leaving the team hotel and having dinner and socializing with friends of Plesac’s and risking contracting the virus.

While the Indians got a car service to take Plesac back to Cleveland, Clevinger flew home with the team after not telling the Indians he had been out with his teammate.

Although both players have twice tested negative for COVID-19 this week, the Indians aren’t ready to have them back.

Earlier this week, pitcher Adam Plutko said he felt betrayed.

“They hurt us bad,” Plutko said after Cleveland’s lost 7-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. “They lied to us. They sat here in front of you guys and publicly said things that they didn’t follow through on.”

Antonetti was asked if there are still hard feeling in the clubhouse toward the pair.

“We’re all a family,” Antonetti said. “We spend a lot of time together. Sometimes there are challenges in families you have to work through. I’d use that analogy as it applies here. There are things that have happened over the course of the last week that have been less than ideal and people have some thoughts and feelings about that.”

Both Clevinger and Plesac issued apologies in the days after their missteps. However, on Thursday, the 25-year-old Plesac posted a six-minute video on Instagram in which he acknowledged breaking team curfew but then aimed blame at the media, saying he and Clevinger were being inaccurately portrayed as “bad people.”

Antonetti said he watched the video.

“I’m not sure Zach was able to convey what he intended to convey in the video after having a chance to speak with him afterwards,” he said. “I think if he had a do-over, he may have said things a bit differently.”

Francona also felt Plesac could have chosen a better way to handle the aftermath.

“I was disappointed,” he said.