Posted on May 19, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Toronto Blue Jays have suspended center fielder Kevin Pillar two games for using a homophobic slur during Wednesday’s loss to the Atlanta Braves. The slur was directed at Braves pitcher Jason Motte after he struck out Pillar by utilizing a quick pitch in the top of the 7th of Wednesday’s game. Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki and home plate umpire Brian O’Nara quickly stepped in front of Pillar after he yelled the slur at Motte, prompting the first of two heated moments between the Braves and Blue Jays during Wednesday’s game.
Pillar was contrite Wednesday night, although he did not clarify what he had yelled to Motte. No one else on the field at the time could confirm what Pillar said either, although video made it clear that Pillar had shouted a homophobic slur at Motte.
Thursday afternoon, after Pillar admitted to having a sleepless night, he issued a formal apology for the incident.
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“Last night, following my at-bat in the seventh inning, I used inappropriate language towards Braves pitcher Jason Motte,” Pillar said in the statement. “By doing so I had just helped extend the use of a word that has no place in baseball, in sports, or anywhere in society today.
“I’m complete and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible to have put the fans, my teammates, and the Blue Jays organization in this position. I have apologized personally to Jason Motte, but also need to apologize to the Braves organization and their fans, and most importantly, to the LGBTQ community for the lack of respect I displayed last night. This is not who I am and I will use this as an opportunity to better myself.”
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins flew to Atlanta following Wednesday’s game, a sign that he was taking the situation seriously. Despite Pillar’s apologetic stance, Atkins was quick to suspend Pillar for two games, a suspension that will cost him over $6,000 in salary. Pillar has also been fined an undisclosed amount.
“A large group decided that was appropriate,” Atkins said. “There is no question that was in the heat of the moment, but that’s no excuse.”
Atkins added that the organization wanted to be “proactive” in how they dealt with the situation. The Blue Jays also released a statement as an organization denouncing Pillar’s slur.
“The Toronto Blue Jays are extremely disappointed by the comments made by Kevin Pillar following his at-bat during the seventh inning of last night’s game,” the statement read. “In no way is this kind of behavior accepted or tolerated, nor is it a reflection of the type of inclusive organization we strive to be. We would like to extend our apologies to all fans, Major League Baseball and especially the LGBQT community.
“We know Kevin to be a respectful high-character individual who we hope will learn from this situation and continue to positive contribute and live up to our values on and off the field.”
Major League Baseball is also investigating the incident. It remains to be seen whether they will look to punish Pillar beyond the two-game suspension and fine he’s received from the Blue Jays.
Pillar missed Thursday’s series finale between the Blue Jays and Braves. He will also miss Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. Barring further punishment from MLB, Pillar will return to the Blue Jays Saturday in Baltimore.
Despite his inexcusable use of a despicable and hurtful slur, Pillar has done his best to handle the fallout and has accepted his punishment without objection. He’s hoping that somehow this incident can become a learning experience for himself and others.
“I regret saying it,” Pillar told reporters Thursday. “I’m going to use myself as an example of how there are words out there you can’t use.”