Yunel Escobar knows some people will never forgive. And some people will never forget. And some people will never be willing to accept a guy who etched a homophobic slur into his eye black last September.

There’s nothing he can do to change that. There’s nothing he can do to win them over.

But for those who at least have an open mind, here is his message:

He’s a “different” Yunel Escobar. And he’s willing to prove it.

The “mistake” he made, Escobar said Sunday, on his first day as a Tampa Bay Ray, “that was last year.”

“This,” he said, through interpreter Jose Molina, “is a new year, new team, new colors.”

And, especially, a new start, for a player who desperately needs one.

On Sept. 15, 2012, Escobar paved the way for his exit from Toronto by playing a game against the Red Sox with a homophobic slur embedded in his eye black in Spanish. The Blue Jays promptly suspended him for three games, then traded him in November to the Marlins, who turned around and dealt him to the Rays in December.

On the day they made that deal, Rays executive vice president for baseball operations Andrew Friedman told the media his team was convinced Escobar had “definitely learned a lesson” and that “he feels remorse about it.”