Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Joyce was suspended two games by Major League Baseball on Saturday following an incident where the player used an anti-gay slur against a fan in the stands. Joyce got into it with a fan after some heckling on Friday night in a game in Anaheim against the Angels.
No one seems to have video of the incident, but it was overheard by an Associated Press photographer. Word spread of the incident throughout the game and it was covered by the media in game stories on Friday.
The exchange occurred in the eighth inning of Los Angeles’ 8-6 win after Angels first baseman C.J. Cron made a diving stop of Joyce’s hard-hit grounder.
As Joyce returned to the dugout, he uttered several profanities at the fan, called him an anti-gay slur and challenged him to fight, according to AP photographer Mark J. Terrill, who overheard the exchange. Terrill said he did not hear the first part of the exchange.
Joyce did not address the incident directly in postgame, but he was asked about it. He didn’t address what he said specifically, but he seemed to regret the incident.
“It’s just one of those things that fans kind of get into the game. Obviously, we’re pretty frustrated on our side, and I had just hit a ball hard and had Cron make a good play,” Joyce said after the game. “I was walking back to the dugout and just had a fan yell some vulgar and obscene words. 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.”
Later on, though, Joyce was remorseful on Twitter.
The Athletics also issued a statement on Twitter, denouncing Joyce’s words.
Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar had a similar incident last season, but this is certainly not a tradition that Major League Baseball intends on continuing. Saturday’s suspension came with another apology from Joyce, who addressed the media after the ruling came down.
Joyce will miss the rest of the series against the Angels.