Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass hopeful next steps will make amends for anti-2SLGBTQ+ post

Toronto Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass. (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

TORONTO — Anthony Bass is hopeful that some still-to-be-determined steps to make amends for sharing an anti-2SLGBTQ+ social media post earlier this week will eventually win back Toronto Blue Jays fans, who booed the reliever throughout his most recent outing for the club.

“We’re in the process currently” of putting together an action plan, Bass said during a brief interview with Sportsnet and The Canadian Press on Thursday. “It wouldn’t be productive to expand upon it right now. I’m in the process of making that next step.”

Bass issued a brief apology Tuesday but took no questions from media after platforming a post supporting the anti-2SLGBTQ+ boycotts of Target and Bud Light on his Instagram account a day earlier. Within that apology, he vowed to use “the Blue Jays’ resources to better educate myself to make better decisions moving forward.”

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While the way the apology was delivered and his refusal to take questions drew criticism, the Blue Jays would likely have handled the entire situation differently if not for Bass immediately showing sincere contrition and remorse for his actions.

He didn’t want to take questions Tuesday, saying “I just wanted to make my point, make it very clear that I was apologetic and move on to focusing on that game,” but he said subsequent negative depictions of him “is not who I am.”

“I embrace and care for everybody — I want that point to be noted,” he said. “I have no hostility towards any groups or any negative feelings at all.”

Follow-through actions are needed to back those words and Bass said he’s “absolutely” open to meeting with members of the community as part of his atonement.

How exactly that lands will go a long way in determining whether the next time Bass pitches at Rogers Centre, he earns a different reception than the one that greeted him during the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

A sellout crowd of 42,205 booed him throughout the frame, a reaction Bass said he “was expecting.”

“My focus was on doing my job, putting up a zero, and getting the team in the dugout to hopefully come back and win,” he added.

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The Blue Jays, drawing on their relationships with community partners and educational resources through Major League Baseball in determining how to proceed, are “exploring what that looks like,” the club said in a statement, adding “we will have more to share soon.”

They have some precedents to draw from.

In 2012, after Yunel Escobar took the field with a homophobic slur scrawled on his eye black, the shortstop underwent sensitivity training and performed some outreach work, while the Blue Jays invited You Can Play to run educational seminars for players at all levels.

In 2017, after Kevin Pillar uttered an anti-Gay slur at Atlanta reliever Jason Motte, the outfielder worked with Billy Bean, MLB’s senior vice-president diversity, equity and inclusion and held a private meeting with roughly 20 LGBTQ people and their parents, among other acts.

Manager John Schneider, who has fielded all questions on the organization’s behalf so far, said the fan reaction to Bass taking the mound Wednesday won’t impact usage decisions with the right-hander.

“Guys on our roster are here for a reason,” he said. “And if we need them in a certain spot, we’ll definitely use them accordingly.”

As for the unusual scene of a home crowd booing a local player, Schneider said, “everyone’s 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 continues to work through what he needs to work through to hopefully make some amends,” he said. “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.”

In the interim, Bass said he’s trying to focus on pitching and “block out all attention outside of the field.” As for whether his penance can make a difference with fans, he said, “I hope so, yes. I think that (the work to come) will.”

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