Blue Jays suspend Pillar two games

The Toronto Blue Jays have suspended Kevin Pillar two games for yelling a homophobic slur at Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte in the seventh inning of Wednesday's game. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Andrew Hendriks

Canadian Baseball Network

The Toronto Blue Jays will be without Kevin Pillar, one of their most productive hitters, who will serve a two-game suspension.

The Blue Jays, using the guidance of Major League Baseball and the Players Association, issued a two-game suspension to Pillar after he directed a homophobic remark at Atlanta’s Jason Motte during the seventh inning of Toronto’s 8–4 loss to the Braves on Wednesday.

With two out and the Blue Jays trailing by five runs, Pillar fell behind 0–2 before Motte delivered a quick pitch which resulted in a weak swing and a miss. A shouting match ensued resulting in a benches-clearing event and an on-field delay of nearly eight minutes. 

Much the same as teams electing to drop the bunt play after establishing a relatively large lead late in a game, hurlers are often told to avoid quick pitching when their club has built a sizeable run advantage over its opponent. 

With this in mind, coupled with the fact that Toronto has taken disappointing a step back in recent days, one could see why the 28-year-old outfielder was frustrated on Wednesday. 

Regardless of the circumstances, Pillar’s remark was inexcusable and appropriate action needed to be taken in order to bring a swift resolution to the issue.

This is not an entirely unprecedented event.

In 2012, Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games after taking the field at Rogers Centre with a homophobic slur written on his eye black under manager John Farrell. Following the suspension, Escobar underwent sensitivity training and donated his lost salary of approximately $30,000 to the You Can Play foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Although the details have yet to be worked out, Pillar will take similar action with regards to his forfeited wages and his fine from the commissioner's office. 

Entering Thursday, Toronto's Superman-like centre fielder ranked third in the American League with 51 hits and was 10th in batting average (.301) on the season. 

Suspended players can be removed from both the 25 and 40-man rosters throughout the duration of their term.

Toronto has used this option to promote outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. from triple-A Buffalo.

With the majority of his playing time coming in right field, Smith Jr., 24, has slashed .297/.350/.422 with 10 extra-base hits over 36 games with the Bisons in 2017.

Pillar will be cleared to play again Saturday in Baltimore. 

- Follow Andrew Hendriks on Twitter (@77hendriks)

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Andrew Hendriks

Born in southern Ontario during the late 1980's, Hendriks had a front row seat to watch the Blue Jays reach the pinnacle in '92/'93 as a child, an experience that only bolstered this Canadian's love for the "American Game." Having played since before his memory allows access too, his passion for Baseball grew over years of emulating his heroes on the local sandlots, memorizing the backs of chewing gum scented cards and travelling across North America to experience as many aspects of the game as possible. In 2009, Hendriks began volunteering at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as a Weekend Tour Guide. By 2010, he was hired on to help curate for the museum & Instruct the fundamentals of the game along side such legends as Tony Fernandez, Roberto Alomar and Jim Fanning during the Hall's annual Kids On Deck program. Following the 2011 season, Hendriks began blogging and co-hosting a weekly podcast for www.BackInBlue.ca, a Blue Jays themed website ran by fans, for fans. Looking to continue connecting with baseball fans across the country, Hendriks is excited to join such a strong team at the Canadian Baseball Network and looks forward to chipping in.