NEW YORK (AP) -- Yunel Escobar insisted he meant no insult, reiterating that the words he wrote were supposed to be "just a joke."

The Toronto Blue Jays had a different read, suspending their starting shortstop for three games on Tuesday for wearing eye-black displaying a homophobic slur in Spanish during a game last weekend against Boston.

Escobar apologized to his team and "to all those who have been offended."

"It was not something I intended to be offensive," he said through a translator. "It was not anything intended to be directed at anyone in particular."

Escobar said he wrote the message 10 minutes before Saturday's home game on his eye-black, a sticker players wear under their eyes to reduce sun glare. The 29-year-old Cuban said he frequently puts messages there -- usually inspirational, manager John Farrell offered -- and had never previously written that specific slur.

Escobar insisted the word is often used within teams and by Latinos and "I didn't see it as something bad at the time."

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