Toronto Blue Jays designate Anthony Bass for assignment ahead of Pride Weekend celebrations
Photo credit:William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing5 months ago
The Toronto Blue Jays have designated reliever Anthony Bass for assignment hours before he was scheduled to throw out the first pitch to kick off the club’s Pride weekend celebrations.
The designation of Bass, 35, comes a week and a half after he shared a video on his personal Instagram account endorsing the boycott of Target and Bud Light for their support of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
The video, which was originally posted by another account, called the companies “evil” and “demonic” while its caption read that the companies were “pushing the message of transitioning to young people and teamed up with a Satanist to push some pro-Satan clothing and pins to children.”
In a subsequent move, the Jays reinstated former starter, now reliever Mitch White, who will be active for Friday’s game against Minnesota. With Bass designated for assignment, the Jays cleared space on the roster for White, who was on the 60-day injured list. The Jays will now either trade Bass within seven days, or place him on irrevocable outright waivers.
Bass, meanwhile, faced instant backlash on social media with many calling for the Jays to release him on the spot. On May 30th, a day after Bass shared the post, he spoke to the media issuing a prepared statement where he said he recognized “yesterday I made a post that was hurtful to the Pride community, which includes friends of mine and close family members of mine.”
He went on to say he was “truly sorry” for his comments and added he spoke with his teammates and was later booed by Jays fans later that night during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
But on Thursday — one day ahead of a game with the Minnesota Twins in which the club would celebrate and show support for the 2SLGBTQ+ — general manager Ross Atkins and Bass spoke to the media separately. Later, it was reported that Bass was set to receive the opening pitch from leZlie Lee Kam, a prominent leader of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Toronto of over 45 years.
During the media availabilities held Thursday, Atkins, who spoke ahead of Bass, said he and the pitcher had “charged” conversations about the Instagram post, but felt there would’ve been a different outcome if he thought Bass’ comments were inauthentic.
Shortly thereafter, Bass met with members of the media where he walked back some of his comments saying that while he “apologized for any harm (or) hurt that I made towards the Pride community,” he removed the post because he “felt like it was too much of a distraction.”
Bass went on to stand by his personal beliefs saying that “moving forward, I will definitely know better than to post my personal beliefs on social media platforms.”
He joined the Blue Jays in an Aug. 2, 2022 trade alongside fellow reliever Zach Pop and later prospect Edward Duran in a deal that sent back shortstop Jordan Groshans the other way. This season, Bass made 22 appearances this year for the team across 20.0 IP posting a 4.95 ERA to go along with a 4.68 FIP and 1.400 WHIP.
During game two of the Jays’ American League Wild Card game against the Seattle Mariners, Bass entered the game in the top of the eighth inning as the Jays held a 9-5 lead. He faced three batters — Eugenio Suarez, Cal Raleigh and Mitch Haniger — allowing a double to Suarez, an RBI single to Raleigh and another single to Haniger. Jordan Romano was forced into the game with runners on first and second allowing a pop fly double to J.P. Crawford. The Jays lost the game 10-9.
Bass’ comments aren’t the first time the Jays have had to deal with anti-2SLGBTQ+ sentiments.
In September 2012, shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended three games without pay after wearing eye black that had a Spanish homophobic slur on it. Escobar, who was acquired by the team two years prior, had two options remaining on his contract, but the Jays traded him that offseason in a 12-player deal with the Miami Marlins.
In May 2017, center fielder Kevin Pillar was suspended for two games after yelling a derogatory term for a gay man at Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte. Pillar was struck out by Motte, in the seventh inning of a game the Braves led 8-3. Now of the Braves, Pillar remained with the Jays until he was traded earlier in the 2019 season to the San Francisco Giants for minor leaguer Juan De Paula, second baseman Alen Hanson and reliever Derek Law.
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