MLB player Michael Kopech has issued an apology after troublesome tweets he wrote as a teen resurfaced, sparking a flurry of criticism online.
Kopech, a 22-year-old pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, tweeted a number of offensive things in 2013, when he was 17. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, in one post, Kopech wrote, “were you calling us f-gs?” and “[N-word] still ain’t tweetin back.” Another tweet attributed to Kopech featured him remarking that someone looked like a “Mexican rapist version of Super Mario.”
The tweets resurfaced in conjunction with Kopech’s major league debut this week, prompting the ballplayer to address the controversy on Thursday.
“Yeah, I had to delete some stuff,” Kopech told the Sun-Times. “Things I said that were immature and inappropriate. I used some poor language in there. Obviously, I’m trying to be looked at as a role model, and the last thing I want to do is have some kid look at what I’m saying and take it the wrong way.”
“It’s unfortunate that I was ever at that point mentally, but it’s not who I am now,” he continued. “Yeah, I cleaned some tweets up and tried to get rid of them. But, obviously, people saw them. It’s not who I am now, and it’s not who I want to be.”
Kopech was at the center of controversy in 2015 when he was dealt a hefty 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Oxilofrine, a banned stimulant. In Thursday’s statement, he described the controversy surrounding his old tweets as another instance of the “maturing” he’s gone through during his professional career.
“It was something I did in high school, and with everything I’ve gone through in pro ball the last five seasons, I feel like a big part of my career was maturing,” he said. “Hate to see it, but it’s not who I am anymore.”
Kopech appears to have since deleted the tweets. Rick Hahn, general manager for the White Sox, stood by Kopech in a statement to the Sun-Times, stating that Kopech had “taken responsibility” for the “offensive and inappropriate” words used in his tweets.
“Michael has been very upfront about his tweets from high school several years ago,” Hahn said. “He has taken responsibility and apologized for his offensive and inappropriate word choices at the time, but has stressed that those careless words do not reflect who he is today. It is certainly true they don’t reflect the young man we know as a maturing, growing, and developing member of our organization.”
Kopech isn't the only MLB player whose past tweets have attracted controversy. Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader issued an apology in June after fans discovered tweets Hader had written when he was 17 referencing white power, the KKK, and hating gay people.
[Photo: Michael Kopech looks on during spring training workouts on February 19, 2017 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona. By Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images]