A baseball player in the US has again apologised for a “mistake” he made when writing a homophobic slur on his face during a game, and has said that he wants to put the past behind him.

Yunel Escobar, 30, then of the Toronto Blue Jays, wore eyeblack, a grease worn by players to reduce sun-glare, emblazoned with the words “tu ere” and “maricon”, which translates loosely into English as “You are a faggot”.

On his first day as a Tampa Bay Ray, however, he said he was “different”, that the “mistake” he made, “that was last year”.

Through an interpreter, the Cuban baseball star said “This is a new year, new team, new colours.”

Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations at the Rays, Andrew Friedman, said: “We believe that it was an isolated incident and that nothing of that nature will be a concern going forward, or we wouldn’t have acquired him.”

Following the incident on 15 September 2012, Mr Escobar was suspended for three games.

He later apologised for offence caused, saying: “In reality, I would like to ask for [forgiveness] for all of those offended by this.”

This weekend, the decision of 25-year-old former Leeds United football player Robbie Rogers, to come out last week, has been commended by gay rights activists, who have described this as a “tipping point” against homophobia in sports.

In the US there is currently no openly gay player in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association or National Hockey League.