Blue Jays suspend Pillar for homophobic slur
‘Ashamed, embarrassed,’ he gets 2-game ban
ATLANTA — Kevin Pillar has been suspended for two games for shouting an anti-gay slur at an Atlanta Braves pitcher, an incident the Toronto Blue Jays centre fielder says he deeply regrets but hopes will ultimately raise awareness about the hurtful impact words can have.
General manager Ross Atkins confirmed the team ban during a media availability before Thursday night’s game at SunTrust Park.
Pillar was angry at Jason Motte for allegedly quick-pitching him to get a strikeout that ended the seventh inning in Atlanta’s 8-4 interleague baseball victory Wednesday night.
Replays appeared to show Pillar using the slur as he yelled toward the mound.
Pillar told reporters in Atlanta there is “no place for this language” anywhere, including on the baseball field.
“I really felt embarrassed for myself, for my family for this organization,” Pillar said, adding that he had not slept much Wednesday night. “I was ashamed.”
The incident occurred during the Blue Jays’ third straight loss to the Braves. With his team trailing 8-3, Pillar struck out swinging to end a 1-2-3 seventh. He yelled toward the mound, prompting Motte to throw up his arms as if he didn’t know what the problem was.
Atlanta catcher Kurt Suzuki and home plate umpire Brian O’Nora stepped in to diffuse the tension. Pillar headed toward the outfield and the Braves left the field.
After the game, Pillar conceded to reporters that he was frustrated by his team’s struggles, though he didn’t mention what was said.
“It just stems from a little frustration in myself, just the way this series has been going,” he said. “It was immature, stupid. It was uncalled for. It’s part of the game. I’m a competitive guy.”
Pillar, who said he has apologized personally to Motte, was much more contrite Thursday.
“There were a lot of different words that could have been said in the heat of the moment but that was the word that came out,” said Pillar. “I regret saying it wholeheartedly.”
Pillar was to miss Thursday’s game against the Braves, as well as Friday’s game at Baltimore. He will forfeit approximately $6,066 of his $550,000 salary, with the money donated to charity.
Pillar will also pay an undisclosed fine.
“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.”
Pillar said he hopes others will learn from his actions.
“I understand that I stand here with an opportunity to turn this into something that is going to be very positive,” he said.