Video: Kevin Pillar investigated for 'stupid' slur after strikeout
In the midst of a strong season, the Blue Jays outfielder has ignited a controversy.
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ATLANTA, GA.—Toronto Blue Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar could face disciplinary action after appearing to direct a homophobic slur at Atlanta Braves reliever Jason Motte.
The alleged incident occurred Wednesday night during the seventh inning of Toronto’s 8-4 loss to Atlanta, the third meeting between the two teams in as many days.
Motte, the first pitcher to come out of the bullpen after starter Mike Foltynewicz’s six-inning outing, threw Pillar a quick pitch, striking him out and ending the inning with the Jays down by five runs. It is at this point that television replays appear to show a frustrated Pillar saying “faggot” to Motte.
Pillar was not asked in a post-game interview to specify what exactly it was that he said to Motte during the exchange, which caused the benches to clear, but the 28-year-old did take full blame for the altercation, apologizing and saying the quick pitch was a breaking point during a series that had been difficult for him personally and for the team as a whole.
“It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for. It’s part of the game; I’m a competitive guy and heat of the moment,” said Pillar, who finished 0-for-4 on the night. “Obviously I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to reach out and apologize and let (Motte) know he didn’t do anything wrong, it was all me.”
Pillar called the incident “something to learn from, something to move on from.” He went on to say it was “not a good look” for himself or his team.
“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,” he said. “That just all came out in that moment.”
A Major League Baseball spokesperson wrote to the Star via email on Thursday morning that “the matter is being investigated.”
This is not the first time the Blue Jays organization has dealt with allegations of homophobic slurs by one of its players.
In September 2012, shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games after playing against the Boston Red Sox with the Spanish words “TU ERE MARICON” written on eye black stickers, a black patch baseball players wear under their eyes to reduce the sun’s glare.
The phrase, which went unnoticed until a zoomed-in photo was posted online by a Jays fan, is most commonly translated to “You are a faggot” in English. Other translations are less explicitly homophobic, but more of an emasculating insult.
Escobar’s suspension was criticized for being too short by some; it was less than half that served by Detroit Tigers outfielder Delmon Young, who earlier that year was benched by MLB after allegedly yelling anti-Semitic epithets outside his hotel room in New York, and only a quarter of the time served by Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, who was suspended for two weeks by the league in 2011 after making homophobic and threatening gestures and remarks to fans in San Francisco.