TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays cut pitcher Anthony Bass on Friday, one day after the right-handed reliever said he didn’t think an anti-LGBTQ+ social media post he shared last month was hateful.
The team now has seven days to trade Bass or put him on waivers.
The move came hours before Bass was set to catch a ceremonial first pitch from Toronto LGBTQ+ activist leZlie Lee Kam before Friday’s game against Minnesota as the Blue Jays begin their fourth annual Pride Weekend celebration.
The Blue Jays said pitcher Kevin Gausman would catch the first pitch instead of Bass.
Bass apologized before a May 30 game against Milwaukee, one day after sharing a post on his Instagram calling for boycotts of Target and Bud Light over support they showed for the LGBTQ+ community. Both companies are dealing with fallout from those campaigns, which have included hostile and homophobic criticisms and calls from LGBTQ+ activists not to cave to the pressure.
Bass, who was booed by Toronto fans in his two home appearances since the apology, spoke to a group of media before Thursday’s win over Houston, saying he stood by his “personal beliefs.”
He also said he is “working hard” to educate himself, including meeting with the executive director of activist group Pride Toronto.
Before Friday’s game, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said the decision to cut Bass was primarily motivated by performance and not by the pitcher’s off-the-field circumstances.
“There’s a myriad of variables,” Atkins said. “Performance is usually the driving one and performance was a large aspect of this decision. Distraction was a small part of it and something we had to factor in.”
Atkins refused to say whether Bass would still be on the team if his performance had been better.
“We’re trying to build the best possible team we can build,” Atkins said. “This was a baseball decision to make our team better.”
Atkins also said it was not “a realistic option” for Bass to land in Toronto’s minor league system.
“We won’t stand in his way to be with another organization,” Atkins said.
Bass, 35, is a 12-year veteran who has also played in Japan. He was 0-0 with a 4.95 ERA in 22 games.
To replace Bass, Toronto activated right-hander Mitch White (right elbow) from the 60-day injured list.