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Pride Toronto director says Jays have opportunity

TORONTO – Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste feels the Toronto Blue Jays have an opportunity to turn a player’s negative action into a positive.

Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass apologized Tuesday for expressing support on social media for anti-2SLGBTQ+ boycotts of Target and Bud Light. A day earlier, he shared an Instagram post urging others to spurn the companies over the support they showed for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“I think (the team can) just continue to do what is right and continue to respect diversity and continue to spread love, continue to show their support for the 2SLGBTQ community,” Modeste said.

“But at the same time, they also have a responsibility to hold all of their staff, all of their players, everyone that’s associated with the Jays, they need to hold them accountable and that I would leave for them to manage.”

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Bass spoke outside the home dugout at Rogers Centre before the Blue Jays’ series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.

He prefaced his remarks by saying “I’ll make this quick,” before delivering a statement that lasted 33 seconds.

Bass said he was “truly sorry” for the post and that he’d use team resources to better educate himself, adding “the ballpark is for everybody.”

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The 35-year-old native of Dearborn, Mich., who has more than 33,000 followers on Instagram, did not take questions.

Modeste said the amplification of a hateful social media post can have a significant impact.

“Let’s also think about the young person that might be a prospect or might potentially be the next baseball player,” he told The Canadian Press. “And seeing this can deter them. So we need to find opportunities to strengthen our community, not to bring our community down.”

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General manager Ross Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro were not made available to speak with reporters.

The annual Blue Jays Pride weekend is set for June 9-10. A rainbow flag jersey giveaway was planned and other details were to be released next week.

“Pride Toronto has a very good relationship with the Jays,” Modeste said. “I personally have worked very closely with the Jays Care Foundation and I know what they stand for because we have been part of this journey together. I don’t believe that one individual is going to change what the Jays are going to do and what the Jays have been doing for the community.

“But ultimately they’re going to have to make a decision on who do they want on the team and how do they want to be seen and reflected in the community.”

Bass apologized to Atkins and Blue Jays manager John Schneider earlier Tuesday. He also apologized to his teammates as a group at the skipper’s prompting.

Since Bass did not speak publicly beyond his brief statement, Schneider was left to handle a series of media questions during a pre-game availability in his office.

“I think the message to the fan base is that we have and will continue to be a huge part of the Pride community,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the ninth and 10th of June. (This situation) doesn’t represent our overall feelings as an organization. We love our fans and we love all the support that we get.

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“It was unfortunate that (this) happened. If they take anything, it’s that the accountability was there and the awareness of how it made people feel was there.”

Bass has played for six other teams over his 12-year big-league career.

“As a man, you stand up and you apologize for what you did,” Schneider said. “I think that’s a really good first step.”

Earlier this year, Bass sparked criticism when he tweeted to complain that a flight attendant had asked his pregnant wife to clean up popcorn their toddler dropped on the floor during a flight.

The right-hander also played for Toronto in the 2020 season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2023.

With files from The Associated Press. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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