Blue Jays cut ties with pitcher Anthony Bass amid backlash over anti-LGBTQ social media post
Embattled reliever was scheduled to catch opening pitch of Pride Weekend on Friday
Reliever Anthony Bass has been designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays.
It's the latest development in a controversy that began last week when Bass shared a social media post that supported anti-LGBTQ boycotts.
Bass, who made a public apology last week for the post, had been scheduled to catch the ceremonial first pitch by LGBTQ advocate leZlie Lee Kam when the Jays hosted Minnesota on Friday night to kick off their Pride Weekend.
The Blue Jays said pitcher Kevin Gausman would catch the first pitch instead.
WATCH | 'Distraction' of Bass saga a factor in parting ways:
The decision to include Bass was met with criticism by some on social media.
Bass has a 0-0 record and 4.95 earned-run average over 22 appearances this season.
Toronto called up right-hander Mitch White in a corresponding roster move.
Bass had shared a since-deleted video post urging others to spurn Target and Bud Light over the support they showed for the LGBTQ community.
He said in a scrum that he initially did not think the video post — which described the selling of Pride-themed merchandise as "evil" and "demonic" — was hateful.
"That's why I posted it originally," he said. "When I look back at it, I can see how people can view it that way and that's why I was apologetic."
WATCH | Bass apologizes for Instagram post:
Before Friday's game, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said the decision to cut Bass was primarily motivated by performance and not by the pitcher's off-the-field circumstances.
"There's a myriad of variables," Atkins said. "Performance is usually the driving one and performance was a large aspect of this decision. Distraction was a small part of it and something we had to factor in."
Atkins refused to say whether Bass would still be on the team if his performance had been better.
"We're trying to build the best possible team we can build," Atkins said. "This was a baseball decision to make our team better."
Atkins also said it was not "a realistic option" for Bass to land in Toronto's minor league system.
"We won't stand in his way to be with another organization," Atkins said.
With files from The Associated Press