Emotional, humbled McDowell returns
Braves pitching coach back after two-week suspension
ATLANTA -- As Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell's voice cracked while he attempted to hold back tears at Turner Field on Friday afternoon, it was apparent that he had been humbled and saddened while spending the past two weeks dealing with the consequences of his reaction to heckling Giants fans before an April 23 game at AT&T Park.
"I would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions," McDowell said. "I am not proud of the way I acted and I know that it will not happen again. I take great pride in my work for this tremendous organization and the standards the organization has, and plan to go forward with those standards in the future. I understand the responsibility we all have in this game."
When McDowell returned to Turner Field on Friday, he experienced something he had never encountered since joining the professional baseball ranks in 1982.
With the Phillies in town, there was certainly a need to make sure rookie hurler Brandon Beachy was prepared to face a dangerous lineup. But long before the first pitch was thrown, McDowell fully grasped the importance of issuing a public apology and addressing the emotions he felt while spending the past two weeks serving a suspension levied by Major League Baseball.
The punishment came in response to allegations that McDowell made homophobic gestures and statements to three men and made a threatening remark to another during batting practice on April 23 in San Francisco.
"These past two weeks have been very humbling, emotional and a reflective time for me and my family to better understand what has happened," McDowell said. "I have and will continue to learn from this, and [I] have committed to being a productive member of the Atlanta Braves organization and to this coaching staff.
"I would like to apologize if anyone was offended by my actions that occurred in San Francisco. My intent was not to hurt anybody or hurt anybody's feelings."
While not being permitted to have any game-related contact with members of the Braves organization the past two weeks, McDowell took sensitivity training courses and took time to apologize to Justin Quinn, the 33-year-old man who joined forces with attorney Gloria Allred and publicly made the allegations during a news conference.
When asked to describe the conversation, McDowell said, "It was a private conversation. In all parties' interest, I think we should keep it that way.
"My feeling is that this is something that I've learned from," McDowell addeed. "The volleying of what was said or what was done and what was not said or done is not something I think needs to be rehashed, because I don't think it is productive in any aspect."
McDowell said he does not believe this event will prevent him from continuing to have normal, friendly interaction with fans.
"I've always had enjoyment when I come to the ballpark," McDowell said. "I always have fun when I come to the ballpark, whether that is interacting with the players, pitchers, fans or anybody else I come in contact with. I really enjoy the game and enjoy coming to the ballpark and being on the field and being one of the select few that get this opportunity -- whether as a player, coach or manager.
"Hopefully I'll be myself. And just from a standpoint of things that may come up, I've learned how to have a better objective of how to handle those situations."
As McDowell addressed the media for approximately 10 minutes, he was unable to keep his voice from cracking. He held back tears while apologizing for his actions, and while also describing the feeling he had when he returned to the Braves' clubhouse Friday and savored the second chance he's been given to be around a game and group of people that he loves.
"I was happy to see everybody I've become family with," McDowell said. "It was a special feeling."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.