MLB investigating racist Instagram messages sent to Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr.

Major League Baseball is investigating racist messages sent to Cubs pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. on the photo sharing app Instagram.

The messages escalated beyond rude criticism to hate speech during Edwards’ inauspicious start to the season, according to the Athletic, which first reported the news. In four appearances, the right-handed reliever has surrendered six earned runs for an ERA of 32.40. Opponents are batting .375 against him.

The Cubs sent him down to Class AAA affiliate Iowa for some tuning up earlier this month where he has improved. He is 1-0 in three relief outings with a 2.25 ERA and three strikeouts.

“We were shocked by the racist, profanity-laced social media message sent to Carl Edwards Jr. earlier this month,” Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said in a statement. “We vehemently condemn the content of the message and are supporting Major League Baseball’s investigation to identify the person responsible.

“In a sport that celebrates diversity and unites people from all backgrounds, we are appalled anyone claiming to be a fan would send divisive and bigoted insults to a player,” Epstein continued. “Whether spoken, posted or published, this type of reprehensible language and views cannot be tolerated in our game or society.”

But baseball has struggled in recent years with countering fans’ racist conduct toward players. Then-Baltimore centre fielder Adam Jones told reporters that fans at Boston’s Fenway Park subjected him to racist taunts and threw a bag of peanuts at him in 2017.

Now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jones asked security at San Diego’s Petco Park to remove a fan who cursed at him while he played right field.

“These fans in sports, man, they’re starting to get a little more brazen,” Jones said (via the Arizona Republic). “I’ve said it many times, and obviously I’ve had altercations with fans. My biggest thing is, keep the banter polite — we suck, I struck out, the team’s not good. Keep it light, keep it smart. There’s kids in the stadium. But the second you start cussing me out like I’m a little kid, that’s a no-no.

“On the street, they’d never do that. In the ballpark, when you’ve paid your admission, there’s no need for all that stuff. The second I hear somebody cussing us out, you’re gone. I could care less that they’re gone. That’s just how it is. I made a nice play, and just hearing the b-word, f-word, that’s not baseball talk. So . . . he gone.”

MLB has a team that works with social media platforms to identify users who abuse players, a league spokesperson told the Athletic. The outlet reported the Edwards investigation is “still in the fact-finding stage.”

“No player should be expected to bear such personal attacks, especially based on the colour of their skin,” said Lee Long, who represents Edwards at the Ballengee Group. “However, C.J. has made a point to mention how grateful he is of the Cubs fans for their support. Furthermore, we are very appreciative of the efforts of the Cubs, MLB and the union in addressing this matter.”