Major League Baseball is investigating a shouting match between Houston Astros reliever Hector Neris and Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez. A bench-clearing incident involving Neris and Rodriguez ensued in the Astros' 8-3 win on Wednesday. Hector Neris allegedly used a homophobic slur when he confronted Julio Rodriguez.
Neris denied the allegations, per The Athletic's Chandler Rome and Ken Rosenthal.
“That did not happen and any suggestion to the contrary is wrong. My mother raised me to love and respect people for who they are and that is how I live my life,” Neris said.
For his part, Julio Rodriguez didn't delve into specifics.
“I'm going to keep the comments (private). But I feel like you've always got to give respect. He's someone I had a lot of respect for. I've known him for a long time, dating back to 2020, during the pandemic. I just feel like I deserved a little more respect,” Rodriguez said.
Hector Neris goes straight at Julio Rodríguez to chirp him after striking him out and the benches clear pic.twitter.com/yQDwhCcUDc
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) September 28, 2023
Hector Neris confronted Julio Rodriguez after the former struck out the Mariners' All-Star outfielder in the sixth inning. Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez was in the on-deck circle when the confrontation took place. Suarez said he heard Neris utter a slur at Rodriguez.
Hector Neris insisted he acted on impulse in the heat of the battle between the two AL West protagonists.
“It's part of the game, emotional, like this situation today. But it's nothing personal. It's only trying to (wake) up my team,” Hector Neris said.
This isn't the first time Hector Neris riled up the Mariners. MLB suspended Neris and Astros manager Dusty Baker after the former hit Mariners infielder Ty France with a wayward pitch last year.
Expect more fireworks between the Astros and Mariners should they square off in the postseason.