Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) gestures to the Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez (44) after striking Rodríguez out to end the sixth inning of a game Wednesday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) gestures to the Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez (44) after striking Rodríguez out to end the sixth inning of a game Wednesday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

MLB investigating Astros pitcher’s alleged use of homophobic slur

The incident occurred during a heated exchange between Houston’s Hector Neris and M’s star Julio Rodriguez on Wednesday night.

  • By Adam Jude The Seattle Times
  • Friday, September 29, 2023 2:42pm
  • SportsMariners

By Adam Jude / The Seattle Times

Major League Baseball is investigating after Houston Astros pitcher Hector Neris allegedly used a homophobic slur to taunt the Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez on Wednesday night, multiple MLB sources told The Seattle Times.

Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez, in the on-deck circle at T-Mobile Park when the incident occurred, told The Times he heard Neris use the slur during an unusual sequence. Neris struck out Rodriguez, then demonstrably walked toward Rodriguez near home plate and shouted at him in Spanish.

Both benches cleared in the latest chapter of the budding rivalry between the Mariners and Astros.

The 22-year-old Rodriguez, speaking publicly about the incident for the first time Thursday afternoon, said he did not want to disclose the nature of Neris’ comments.

Privately, multiple sources close to Rodriguez said the Mariners’ star center fielder confirmed Suarez’s account.

Rodriguez and Neris were teammates on the Dominican Republic team during the World Baseball Classic this spring, and Rodriguez said he had previously considered Neris, 34, a friend.

“I just feel I deserve a little bit more respect than that,” Rodriguez said.

The Astros public relations staff released a statement attributed to Neris on Thursday in which the pitcher apologized for his actions but denied that he used a homophobic slur.

“I want to apologize to Julio, his family, and the Mariners organization. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Julio as a person and a player. He means so much to baseball and the communities in the United States and back home in the Dominican Republic. He is a great player and a better person and deserves to be recognized that way,” the statement read.

It concluded: “Last, there were reports that I used a homophobic slur, which are simply incorrect. That did not happen and any suggestion to the contrary is wrong. My mother raised me to love and respect people for who they are and that is how I live my life.”

Rodriguez said Neris had reached out to him directly, but Rodriguez does not plan to respond.

More than anything, Rodriguez said he was confused by the entire episode.

“I get the part where you can celebrate and be excited and all that,” Rodriguez said. “But just to like come down and get in my face like that, that’s something I’m not going to take. Not just from him — somebody that I thought was my friend. Not just from him but from anybody.”

One lesson Rodriguez said he’s learned from the incident: There are no friends once you step on the field.

“It’s hard to learn it that way,” he said, “but sooner rather than later I was going to learn something like that. I’m glad it happened now and I can keep moving forward.”

Rodriguez, in one of the worst games of his young career, finished 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the Mariners’ 8-3 loss to the Astros on Wednesday, which gave Houston a 1.5-game lead over Seattle for the third and final wild-card spot.

Their playoff hopes dwindling, the Mariners close out the regular season with four games against the Rangers, beginning Thursday night.

Rodriguez, one of the first players to arrive at the ballpark, took early batting practice on the field Thursday afternoon.

“Especially when you really have something at stake, when you really have a goal as a team, you always want to contribute,” he said. “And I feel like that’s something that I didn’t do [Wednesday]. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field and show up and try to do my thing.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks tight end Noah Fant (87) gets tackled with the ball during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023 in Seattle. The 49ers won 31-13. (AP Photo/Ben VanHouten)
Seahawks look for a better showing against the 49ers

Coach Pete Carroll felt the team wasn’t prepared for the rivals’ matchup two weeks ago.

Arlington sophomore wrestler Tre Haines grabs the leg of his teammate during practice on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington wrestlers aim for more postseason success

The Eagles feature a standout trio of state placers from last season, including a state champion and runner-up.

Prep roundup for Thursday, Dec. 7

Prep results for Thursday, Dec. 7: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: Report results and… Continue reading

The Everett Elite Flag Football 14-under team practices Sunday morning at Harbour Pointe Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington on January 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Community roundup: MP grad Davis earns silver with Fiji national team

Trina Davis helps Fiji women’s soccer at the Pacific Games, hammer throwers earn All-American nod, and locals take home collegiate all-league honors.

Arlington’s Dustin Baxter flexes after winning the 170 pound weight class match on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Extra time with clubs helps Arlington wrestlers Baxter, Haines excel

Before high school, Dustin Baxter and Tre Haines wrestled together on an Arlington-based club team.

Lake Stevens head coach Tom Tri hugs quarterback Kolton Matson after the Vikings’ victory against Graham-Kapowsin in the WIAA 4A Football State Championship on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Patterson: Lake Stevens reaches dynasty level with 2nd state title

The Vikings join an exclusive group of Snohomish County football history.

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Dec. 6

Prep results for Wednesday, Dec. 6: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: Report results and… Continue reading

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Nov. 27-Dec. 3

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Nov. 27-Dec. 3. Voting closes… Continue reading

Prep roundup for Tuesday, Dec. 5

Prep results for Tuesday, Dec. 5: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: Report results and… Continue reading

Tips show they can hang with best in split with Prince George

Everett played a pair of tight games against the WHL’s top team, despite missing some key pieces.

Prep roundup for Monday, Dec. 4

Prep results for Monday, Dec. 4: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: Report results and… Continue reading

Washington running back Dillon Johnson (7) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown against Oregon during the second half of the Pac-12 championship NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Huskies receive No. 2 seed, face Texas in CFP semifinals

Washington gets a postseason rematch in the Sugar Bowl. Michigan gets the No. 1 seed.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.