Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Joyce reportedly used a gay slur in an argument with a fan Friday night during a game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In the eighth inning of the game in Anaheim, Angels first baseman C.J. Cron made a diving stop of a ball hit hard by Joyce, robbing him of a hit. As Joyce went back to the dugout, a fan apparently made derogatory comments toward him, and Joyce responded in kind, including the slur, which was overheard by an Associated Press photographer, the AP reports. The Angels won the game 8-6.
"I was walking back to the dugout and just had a fan yell some vulgar and obscene words," Joyce told reporters. "For me it just wasn't the right time to say some stuff like that. I fired back and obviously as soon as you fire back you regret saying anything, because it's just not worth it."
The story did not specify the slur Joyce used, and AP photographer Mark J. Terrill said he did not hear the first part of the exchange.
Saturday afternoon, Joyce released a statement apologizinh for the comment, and the A's announced he would be suspended for two games without pay, with his lost salary donated to PFLAG, ESPN reports.
"In regard to last night's incident, I sincerely apologize to the fans, the Oakland A's, MLB and most importantly the LGBTQ community for my comments and actions," Joyce's statement said. "A fan yelled vulgar and obscene words about me and my family and I let my frustrations and emotions get the better of me.
"I am beyond sorry for the inappropriate language that I used and understand and agree that those words should NEVER come out of someone's mouth no matter the situation. Anyone who knows me will tell you that it is not reflective of me as a person, how I treat others, how I live my life and that those hurtful words are not my views. I fully support and hope to help the LGBTQ community with their efforts in being treated fairly. I intend to let my actions speak louder than anything more that can be said about this truly regrettable moment."
The A's also released a statement: "The Oakland Athletics are very disappointed by the comments Matt Joyce made to a fan during the eighth inning of last night's game. This language is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by our team. We pride ourselves on being inclusive and expect our entire organization to live up to higher standards. We appreciate that Matt is contrite about his conduct and know he will learn from this incident."
The A's are donating more than $54,000 to PFLAG, representing Joyce's lost salary, and Joyce will take part in an outreach program with the group, ESPN reports.
Major League Baseball appears to be taking a strong stand against anti-LGBT behavior. In May, Kevin Pillar of the Toronto Blue Jays was suspended for two games for using a homophobic term toward Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte during a game. Pillar apologized for the comment, "most importantly, to the LGBTQ community," and said he would try to learn from the experience.