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Pride Toronto director weighs in on Bass apology

TORONTO – Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste says Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass’s apology for supporting anti-2SLGBTQ+ boycotts on social media was a “first step,” but adds it’s important “it goes beyond an apology.”

“I think we need to start seeing a little bit more accountability in relation to (some) training (and see if) he’s really demonstrating that he wants to unlearn that bias,” Modeste said.

Speaking at his locker after Toronto’s 3-1 win over Milwaukee on Thursday, Bass said he’s planning to make the next move.

“We’re in the process currently,” he said. “But it wouldn’t be productive to expand upon it right now. I’m in the process of making that next step.”

Bass was booed by the Rogers Centre crowd on Wednesday night in his first appearance since making a brief statement a day earlier. He prefaced pre-game remarks Tuesday by saying, “I’ll make this quick” before speaking for 33 seconds and returning to the dugout.

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Bass declined to take questions from reporters.

“I just wanted to make my point,” he said before the team departed for New York for a weekend series with the Mets. “Make it very clear that I was apologetic and move on to focusing on that game.”

The right-hander said in his statement that he was “truly sorry” for the post and that he’d use team resources to better educate himself, adding “the ballpark is for everybody.”

“It’s more him having a conversation with the community more than anything else,” Modeste said. “As much as I respect the press, I think the press are going to be asking him hard questions, but the community will be able to tell him personally how his action has made them feel.

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“This is where I think most of the conversation needs to happen. Between him and the community.”

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A 35-year-old native of Dearborn, Mich., Bass has more than 33,000 followers on Instagram.

He shared a post Monday urging others to spurn Target and Bud Light over support they showed for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“That’s not who I am,” Bass said. “I embrace and care for everybody. I want that point to be noted. I have no hostility towards any groups or any negative feelings at all.”

Pride month celebrations kicked off Thursday in Toronto. More than 200,000 marchers and over two million spectators are expected at the city’s annual Pride Parade on June 25.

The Jays’ annual Pride weekend at Rogers Centre is set to begin June 9.

Mild booing from the home crowd of 42,205 could be heard when Bass trotted from the bullpen to the mound on Wednesday night.

“I was expecting it,” Bass said. “But my focus was on doing my job, putting up a zero, and getting the team in the dugout to hopefully come back and win.”

Bass pitched one inning in the 4-2 loss to the Brewers.

“There are going to be consequences for his behaviour,” Modeste said. “I don’t know if it’s going to continue up until (June 9), but definitely I know that the community was upset and the community reacted.

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“I do hope that between now and then that he makes some time to at least meet with the community and have some honest conversation. I think that will help to release some of the current pressures that the community is feeling and will also help with some accountability.”

The booing was significant enough that it was noted by commentators on the television broadcast.

“You don’t want to say you expect it, but you definitely hear it,” said Jays manager John Schneider. “Again, I think everyone is allowed to feel how they want to feel.

“I think Anthony did a good job in navigating those emotions last night in that inning and hopefully he’ll continue to work through what he needs to work through to hopefully make some amends.”

Schneider did not have details on potential next steps for the reliever.

“We’re still figuring out the right way to do that with the people that we have been talking to both in the organization and around the league,” Schneider said. “Knowing him, I think that he probably wants to be heard a little bit more than he was. So when that time comes, I’m sure he will.”

It wasn’t clear what team resources Bass might be using and how they might be applied to his situation.

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“We have strong community partners, as well as educational resources through Major League Baseball,” the Blue Jays said in a statement. “Anthony is committed to doing the meaningful work necessary and we are exploring what that looks like. We will have more to share soon.”

Bass has played for six other teams over his 12-year big-league career. He spent the 2020 season in Toronto and was reacquired last season in a trade with the Miami Marlins.

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.

He said Thursday he plans to “stay off” social media for now and focus on his job.

Bass has yet to record a decision this season in 21 appearances. He has a 4.26 earned-run average and has held opponents to a .225 batting average.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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