New York Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen was apologetic on Wednesday following an inappropriate exchange with Daisuke Matsuzaka's translator Jeff Cutler on Sunday that reportedly included an ethnic slur.
"I apologize for the thoughtless remarks that I made yesterday in the clubhouse," Warthen's statement read. "They were a poor attempt at humor, but were wrong and inappropriate in any setting. I am very sorry."
According to Stu Woo of the Wallstreet Journal, Warthen personally apologized to Cutler in the Mets clubhouse on Monday after admittedly referring to the 30-year-old Japanese American as a ‘Chinaman’ during an exchange that took place on Sunday.
“I’m sorry I called you a ‘Chinaman’ yesterday,” Warthen told Cutler.
“It’s OK,” Cutler replied.
“I didn’t mean to insinuate –- I know you’re not Chinese,” Warthen said. He paused. “I thought it was a pretty good joke, though.”
“It was,” Cutler said, with a small laugh.
Cutler went on about his business after accepting Warthen's apology, according to Woo.
The comment itself and the apology that followed weren't acknowledged publicly by the team over the next 48 hours. In fact, the entire incident was likely to remain in-house had Woo, a Chinese American himself, not overheard the exchange and brought it to light on Wednesday.
I didn’t say anything, but I was startled. As a 27-year-old Chinese American who grew up in San Francisco, I couldn’t remember the last time I heard the term “Chinaman,” a derogatory word originally given by white Americans to Chinese immigrants in the 19th century.
I might have heard it used on the grade-school playground, but never before in dozens of NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball locker rooms I’ve been to as a sports reporter.
Woo was understandably taken aback when he overheard the exchange and went to Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz in an attempt to set up a meeting with Warthen to discuss his comment. That meeting was scheduled for Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m., but never took place after Warthen decided to withhold commenting.
It wasn't until Woo's column was published on Wednesday that the Mets formally addressed the situation. General manager Sandy Alderson released the following statement, but never acknowledged Warthen by name.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I apologize for the insensitive remarks made by of one of our staff members. The remarks were offensive and inappropriate and the organization is very sorry.”
Warthen's apology was also released Wednesday evening, though it's not certain when he actually made the comments based on his reference to yesterday. That would indicate he apologized for something that happened on Tuesday, but Woo's report points to the incident happening over the weekend.
Either way, Mets officials, who were obviously very aware of the situation based on Woo's meeting with Horowitz, probably would have been wise to get out ahead of the story with their statements and apologizes.
Of course, fully understating and accepting what happened was wrong, taking responsibility for said actions and then apologizing are the most important things. Warthen seemed to handle that on his own, but eliminating any potential for head-scratching and further questioning is important too. The Mets could have done a little better in that regard.
- - - - - - -