Stay­ing power

Ex-Ori­ole Steve Cle­venger sus­pended for racial tweets

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jonas Shaf­fer

The Seat­tle Mariners have sus­pended catcher Steve Cle­venger for the racially charged tweets he posted Thurs­day to his Twit­ter ac­count re­gard­ing the civil un­rest in Char­lotte, N.C.

In a state­ment Fri­day, Mariners gen­eral man­ager Jerry Dipoto said Cle­venger, a Pig­town na­tive, Mount Saint Joseph grad­u­ate and for­mer Ori­ole, has been sus­pended without pay for the rest of the sea­son, leav­ing the 30-year-old backup’s ma­jor league fu­ture in doubt.

“As soon as we be­came aware of the tweets posted by Steve yes­ter­day, we be­gan to ex­am­ine all of our op­tions in re­gard to his stand­ing on the team,” Dipoto said.

“Today we have in­formed him that he is sus­pended for the re­main­der of the sea­son without pay.”

Cle­venger deleted his Twit­ter ac­count and apol­o­gized af­ter post­ing the mes­sages be­fore re­turn­ing with his tweets pro­tected.

A Twit­ter user, @ca­ble­box666, posted screen­grabs of the mes­sages, the first of which was posted Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

“Black peo­ple beat­ing whites when a thug got shot hold­ing a gun by a black of­fi­cer haha [stuff ] cracks me up. Keep kneel­ing for the An­them!” wrote Cle­venger, who hasn’t played for the Mariners since late June af­ter suf­fer­ing a bro­ken hand and a flexor strain in his right el­bow.

“[Black Lives Mat­ter] is pa­thetic once again! Obama you are pa­thetic once again! Ev­ery­one in­volved should be locked be­hind bars like an­i­mals!”

Buck Showal­ter, who man­aged Cle­venger with the Ori­oles from 2013 to 2015, de­clined to give an ex­tended re­ac­tion to the tweets.

“I’m still kind of col­lect­ing my thoughts on it. It ob­vi­ously wasn’t good, and that’s putting it mildly,” Showal­ter said.

Cle­venger apol­o­gized for the re­marks in a state­ment, which was posted to Fox re­porter Ken Rosen­thal’s Face­book page: “I am sick­ened by the idea that any­one would think of me in racist terms. My tweets were re­ac­tionary to the events I saw on the news and were worded be­yond poorly at best and I can see how and why some­one could read into my tweets far more deeply than how I ac­tu­ally feel.

“I grew up on the streets of Bal­ti­more, a city I love to this very day. I grew up in a very cul­tur­ally di­verse area of Amer­ica and I am very proud to come from there. I am also proud that my in­ner cir­cle of friends has never been de­fined by race but by the con­tent of their char­ac­ter. Any for­mer team­mate or any­one who has met me can at­test to this and I pride my­self on not be­ing a judg­men­tal per­son. I just ask that the pub­lic not judge me be­cause of an ill-worded tweet.”

The tweets came in the wake of vi­o­lent protests in North Carolina’s largest city af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing of Keith La­mont Scott, 43, by a black po­lice of­fi­cer Tues­day.

Gov. Pat McCrory de­clared a state of emer­gency amid Wed­nes­day’s ri­ot­ing, dur­ing which one man was fa­tally wounded by a gun­shot.

In his state­ment, Cle­venger said: “I do be­lieve that sup­port­ing our First Amend­ment rights and sup­port­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. With ev­ery­thing go­ing on in the world I really just want what is best for ev­ery­one re­gard­less of who they are. I, like many Amer­i­cans, are frus­trated by a lot of things in the world and I would like to be a part of the di­a­logue mov­ing for­ward to make this a bet­ter world for ev­ery­one.”

Dipoto had ear­lier said the Mariners “are very dis­ap­pointed” by the tweets.

“While he is cer­tainly free to ex­press him­self, his tweets do not in any way rep­re­sent the opin­ions of the Seat­tle Mariners,” Dipoto said in a state­ment tweeted by the Mariners. “We strongly dis­agree with the lan­guage and tone of his com­ments.”

Cle­venger’s com­ments on the de­ci­sion of pro­fes­sional ath­letes such as San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick to kneel for the na­tional an­them have par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance in Bal­ti­more. Ori­oles cen­ter fielder Adam Jones made head­lines last week when he was asked why no black base­ball play­ers have protested racial in­equal­ity or po­lice bru­tal­ity.

“We al­ready have two strikes against us al­ready,” Jones told USA Today, “so you might as well not kick your­self out of the game. In foot­ball, you can’t kick them out. You need those play­ers. In base­ball, they don’t need us. Base­ball is a white man’s sport.”

Jones was asked about his for­mer team­mate’s tweets be­fore Fri­day’s game and said he hadn’t heard Cle­venger say any­thing like that dur­ing his time with the Ori­oles.

“Any­body is en­ti­tled to say what­ever you want to. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels,” Jones said.

“Who am I to judge any­body on how they feel? I say some­thing, peo­ple judge me, so if he says some­thing, let peo­ple judge him. The Mariners took ac­tion as they see fit. I’ve got a game to win here in Bal­ti­more. I can’t worry about what goes on in Seat­tle.”

The Ori­oles traded pitch­ers Jake Ar­ri­eta and Pe­dro Strop to the Chicago Cubs in July 2013 for Cle­venger and pitcher Scott Feld­man.

Cle­venger, who was traded last De­cem­ber to Seat­tle for Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefen­hauser, was was bat­ting .221 with one home run and seven RBIs in 22 games this sea­son be­fore his in­jury.

NICK WASS/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Ori­oles’ Mark Trumbo (45) cel­e­brates with Caleb Joseph af­ter home­r­ing to left field off the Di­a­mond­backs’ Matt Koch to lead off the bot­tom of the 12th in­ning. Pe­dro Al­varez had home­red in the eighth and Matt Wi­eters in the ninth to force ex­tra in­nings.

Cle­venger

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