By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians manager Terry Francona called racist social media messages sent to first baseman Yu Chang “stupid and ignorant” and said they have no place in baseball or “anywhere.”
On April 13, Chang shared some anti-Asian postings he received on Twitter after he made a costly error in the ninth inning of the April 12 game in Chicago. The throwing error allowed the White Sox to score the winning run.
Chang, who is Taiwanese, posted some of the tweets on his account while asking for tolerance.
One of the messages referred to the shape of his eyes and another referred to the coronavirus.
“Exercise your freedom of speech in a right way, I accept all comments, positive or negative but DEFINITELY NOT RACIST ONES,” Chang wrote. “Thank you all and love you all.“
He included the hashtag StopAsianHate.
Chang’s tweet included a screenshot of three of the messages. Two of the accounts seem to have been deleted.
Soon after his posting, the 25-year-old Chang received an outpouring of positive responses and support from Indians fans and others across social media.
Francona said he texted with Chang earlier in the day and met with him along with the player’s interpreter before the April 13 game at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“First, I wanted to make sure he was OK and that he understands the lunacy or the idiocy that was said is not shared by hopefully very many people, certainly not in the Indians organization,” Francona said. “Truth be told, man, it’s really simple: errors are part of the game.
“But ignorance and racism, they shouldn’t be anywhere. Those comments that have nothing to do with baseball, it’s just an excuse for somebody to be stupid and ignorant. That’s really what it is.”
Francona said Chang was handling the situation well.
“He’s an extremely mature young man and he’s fine,” Francona said.
With the Indians and White Sox tied 3-3 in the ninth inning and Chicago threatening with two runners on base and one out, Chang fielded a ground ball and attempted to get the forceout at second, but hit runner Yasmani Grandal in the helmet.
The ball ricocheted toward the left-field line, allowing pinch-runner Nick Madrigal to score and giving the White Sox a 4-3 win.
Chang, who came up as a middle infielder in Cleveland’s organization, is playing first base for the first time this season. The Indians signed him as a free agent in 2013.
Chang was not in the lineup on April 13, but Francona said Jake Bauers playing first had nothing to do with the error.
“I can promise you we will never make a lineup out from somebody’s tweet the night before,” Francona said.
Chang flied out as a pinch-hitter on April 13 in the Indians’ 2-0 win in 10 innings. There was no noticeable reaction from the socially distanced crowd when he batted.
The racist social media postings directed toward Chang are part of an ugly trend of abusive behavior toward Asians, which included the fatal shootings of six women of Asian descent in Atlanta by a white gunman last month.
Former NBA player Jeremy Lin has been outspoken about the racist behavior and sports organizations have offered support to quell incidents.