CLEVELAND — To show the organization’s support for the LGBTQ community, the Red Sox have their annual Pride Night event scheduled for Tuesday at Fenway Park.
But on Thursday night, the Sox started lefthander Matt Dermody against the Cleveland Guardians despite knowing he had posted a homophobic message on Twitter in 2021.
The Sox learned of the issue after Dermody was signed to a minor league contract in January but elected to keep him in the organization.
On June 26, 2021, Dermody posted this to Twitter: “#PrideMonth. Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. They will go to hell. This is not my opinion, but the #Truth. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9. May we all examine our hearts, ask Jesus to forgive us and repent of all our sins. I love you all in Christ Jesus!”
The tweet was later deleted. His team at the time, the Saitama Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League, issued an apology for what it termed an “inappropriate expression.”
Dermody, 32, engaged Twitter users who questioned his statement at the time and posted, “I am not a homophobic.”
Dermody allowed three runs over four innings in a 10-3 loss and was designated for assignment after the game, likely ending his time with the Sox.
“I do regret the tweet in the sense that it came out hurtful and it hurt a lot of people,” Dermody said after the game. “That’s the last thing I want to do is hurt people.
“A lot of people think that I’m against a certain group of people or whatnot. But I’m for everybody making it to heaven. That’s my goal as a Christian, and as a teammate, and as a family member, a dad. I want good to happen to everybody.”
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said he initially considered releasing Dermody but changed his mind after a conversation with the pitcher.
“Before having spoken to him, we knew that he had taken the tweet down,” Bloom said. “We needed to understand where his head was at because it was something I personally disagree with and the organization does as well.
“At the same time we cannot dictate the religious beliefs of our players. But we can expect them to support the environment the organization is trying to create. He understood what he did was hurtful.”
Bloom was asked what message the promotion of Dermody sends with the Pride event coming up next week.
“I hope it’s obvious that the timing is baseball-related,” he said. “I know that this move and the timing will be upsetting to a lot of people who love the Red Sox, and that’s not something that we want. I’m definitely aware of that.
“What he posted was something we would disagree with in any month of the year. I would and the organization would.”
“As an organization we made this decision,” manager Alex Cora said. “We’ve done a lot of stuff to educate our players in the subject … Not too many people agree with the tweet of Matt. I’m not here to tell him what to say or do.
“But one thing for sure, when you put this uniform [on] what we want is for people to be inclusive. I think the clubhouse is a reflection on the world.”
The incident also led to the Red Sox changing the vetting process they use before signing players.
“Our due diligence was robust,” Bloom said. “But there were holes in it that we tightened up. It’s a better process now. We took a look at what happened.”
Dermody also has re-tweeted several anti-vaccine and anti-government posts from other Twitter users.
According to team president Sam Kennedy, Dermody went through the diversity, equity, and inclusion training that is required of all players.
“We’ve put a lot of time, energy, passion, and hard work over the past 20 years into creating an inclusive environment in our ballpark, clubhouse, and front office,” Kennedy said. “While we fully recognize that beliefs and viewpoints will differ, we will always insist that players, employees, and fans treat one another with professionalism and respect.”
Dermody played for the University of Iowa and was drafted by Toronto in 2013. The Red Sox are his third major league organization along with stints in Japan, South Korea, and independent ball.
Thursday was his first major league start. Because of injuries and underperformance, the last-place Red Sox have been scrambling for pitchers.
Dermody had a 5.60 earned run average in 30 relief appearances for the Blue Jays and Cubs from 2016-22. He was 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in nine games for Triple A Worcester this season.
Dermody is the ninth starter the Sox have used through 63 games.