Kevin Pillar has apologized and been suspended two games by the Toronto Blue Jays after shouting a gay slur at Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte on Wednesday night.
Controversy swirled around Pillar and the Jays on Thursday, as MLB launched an investigation into the incident, according to multiple reports. Pillar then issued an apology on Twitter, saying specifically that he was sorry to the LGBTQ community for the lack of respect that he showed.
The Blue Jays followed with an apology of their own and, a couple hours later, handed down a two-game suspension to Pillar. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the suspension came in conjunction with MLB’s investigation into the matter.
Statement from the Toronto Blue Jays. pic.twitter.com/ASZuzUM6RM
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 18, 2017
Tensions between the two teams rose when Pillar appeared to shout the slur after being quick-pitched by Motte, which resulted in a strikeout to end the seventh inning. His anger was apparent, and it’s even more clear his choice of words is what led to the first of two benches-clearing incidents during the game.
Here’s a closer look at Pillar’s reaction, which we again warn you appears to be a homophobic slur directed at Motte.
— Dr. B (@BlakeTheRxGuy) May 18, 2017
Immediately following the game, Pillar stated his intentions to apologize personally to Motte. Pillar never specifically stated what it was he said, but his comments indicate he’s fully aware his comments could have serious consequences.
The Blue Jays suspended Yunel Escobar for three games in 2012 after the infielder wore eye black that contained a gay slur written in Spanish.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously that was the initial thing I was upset about but I think it just stems from a little frustration in myself and just the way this series has been going. It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for. It’s part of the game, it’s just, I’m a competitive guy and a heat of the moment. Obviously I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to reach out and apologize and let him know the didn’t do anything wrong, it was all me. Obviously something to learn from, something to move on from. Don’t let it define me but really I think it was just frustration from coming off a really good homestand and really just not even being in any of these ball games, just coming out flat and not being able to build on what we were able to build on against Seattle. That just all came out in that moment.”
Wednesday night’s game was combative on many fronts. But much of the Braves focus seemed to be on Jose Bautista’s eighth-inning bat flip, which initiated the second bench-clearing incident.
Jose Bautista with the BAT FLIP & TROT to tick the Braves off #BlueJays
— Around The Bases POD (@AroundBasesPOD) May 18, 2017
Fortunately, cooler heads would prevail in both instances, but they certainly added more fuel to a rivalry that has slowly developed during the teams’ four-game series that was split between Toronto and Atlanta.
In fact, it appears the Braves harbored some resentment before either incident based on the number of batters that had already been hit in the series. That’s if you’re to believe the Braves’ Twitter account.
Benches clear at SunTrust Park. Seven Braves players have been HBP since the start of this home-and-home series on Monday.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 18, 2017
Typically team-run accounts steer clear of these situations, but the Braves organization had a lot on its mind after superstar Freddie Freeman was hit on the wrist by a pitch earlier in the game. We found Thursday that Freeman will be out for at least 10 weeks with a fractured wrist.
Don’t be surprised if tensions run high again between these two teams Thursday night when they play their final game of their series.
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