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Joe Nathan apologizes to Tigers fans for rude gesture, says, ‘I will be better’ (video)

An already-beleagured Joe Nathan found himself in the center of a swirling controversy in light of the “Chin Flick” gesture he appeared to direct at Detroit Tigers fans following a so-so appearance in the team’s 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday at Comerica Park.

Nathan took his medicine on Thursday, apologizing for the surly antics he directed at the hometown fans while exchanging congratulatory handshakes with teammates on the field.

“There was a lot of frustration on the fans’ part,” he conceded, according to a Detroit Free Press report, perhaps talking both about Wednesday and his entire season.

Nathan acknowledged that he has given Tigers fans plenty to be disappointing over regarding a less-than-stellar performance this season, saying that he felt the fans’ ire when walking the first two batters he faced in his one-inning appearance.

“Right after I threw ball one, everything started again,” he said.

But then Nathan opened up and took responsibility for his actions, apologizing to the fans and making the promise, “I will be better.”

The reliever admitted that frustration got the best of him.

“It was just frustrations and hearing it the whole inning just got the better of me,” Nathan told reporters Thursday at Comerica Park. “My frustrations came out.”

Nathan took on the media immediately upon arriving at the ballpark Thursday morning.

“I was frustrated and, obviously, the fans were frustrated,” he said. “For myself, I apologize for that, but I have two kids and I need to be a better example for them.”

He added that he hopes to set a better example for his children, who likely aren’t aware of their father’s conduct.

“Thank God they’re still young enough so they won’t know about this, but I do know and I need to be better for that. I know both sides are frustrated, but the thing is, we’re on the same page,” referring to the fans before adding, “I know they’re behind this team 100%; they want us to get to the same place.”

As noted earlier Thursday, he is suffering through a career-worst season, and his woeful statistical performance certainly merit criticism. Nathan says he recognizes that he can’t let it get the best of him and instead of focusing on what he cannot control, he would be better served to concentrate on the task at hand.

“Sometimes you’re going to go out and have struggles, and the thing is, I don’t feel like I have been struggling lately,” he said. “I think it’s gone pretty well and sometimes when you walk a guy, that frustration comes out there.”