Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor have apologized to the New York Mets fans after the former revealed that players had a thumbs-down celebration gesture as a dig at the fans who have booed the club for underperforming.
Baez and Lindor took turns to apologise before a game against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. The apology followed a stern statement from team president Sandy Alderson, who disapproved of the gesture. The players said in a team meeting on Tuesday that they would stop making it.
"I didn't mean to offend anybody," Báez was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
The 28-year-old Báez has hit .210 with four home runs and a .709 OPS in 17 games since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs in July. Mets fans targeted their boos at him and others throughout August when the team has gone 8-19 to fall out of playoff position after leading the NL East for nearly three months.
Players began making the thumbs-down gesture toward their dugout after base hits and other positive plays while at Dodger Stadium from August 20-22.
"When we don't get success, we're going to get booed. So they're going to get booed when we have success," Baez had said on Sunday.
Lindor and manager Luis Rojas said Tuesday they believe Báez — whose first language is Spanish but doesn't use an interpreter when speaking to media — misspoke when he said Mets players were booing the fans.
"I didn't say the fans are bad, I love the fans, but like, I just felt like we were alone. The fans obviously want to win, and they pay our salary like everybody says, but like, we want to win, too, and the frustration got to us. And, you know, I didn't mean to offend anybody, and if I offend anybody, we apologize," Báez clarified on Tuesday
Lindor also said the gesture was not explicitly about fans.
"Thumbs down for me means adversity, the adversity we have gone through in this whole time," Lindor said. "Like the negative things, we overcome it, so it's like, 'We did it! We went over it!'," Lindor said.
"However, it was wrong, and I apologize to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people," he added.