Blue Jays’ Pillar issues apology for using homophobic slur

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar comments on the incident with the Atlanta Braves.

ATLANTA – Kevin Pillar apologized in a Twitter post Thursday for using "inappropriate language" during a heated on-field exchange with Jason Motte as possible discipline loomed from either the Toronto Blue Jays or Major League Baseball.

In using a derogatory gay slur, Pillar said, "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 completely and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible to have put the fans, my teammates and the Toronto 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 will use this as an opportunity to better myself."

Both Pillar and Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins, who was en route to Atlanta, were expected to address the matter later Thursday. The Blue Jays have also issued a statement on the matter.

Pillar’s statement comes as the Blue Jays and baseball officials were believed to be approaching the matter similarly to the way the Yunel Escobar situation was handled back in 2012. The shortstop was suspended by the team for three games after taking the field with a derogatory term for homosexuals inscribed in Spanish on his eye-black patches, and the punishment was handed down in consultation with Major League Baseball and the players’ union.

Escobar also had to complete sensitivity training and participate in an outreach program while the $93,000 in salary he forfeited was donated to You Can Play, an organization promoting tolerance for gay athletes in sports, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

At the time, Major League Baseball hadn’t yet implemented the code of conduct introduced during the 2013 all-star break that protects players from discrimination based on sexual orientation or race.

Baseball’s Rule 6.04 covers unsportsmanlike conduct and section (a)(2) states that no player shall "use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, an umpire, or any spectator."

Earlier Thursday, spokesmen confirmed that Major League Baseball was investigating whether Pillar used the slur during the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 8-4 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park.

Motte threw a quick pitch for a strike three swinging, angering Pillar who looked out to the mound and uttered a few words. Motte stopped, walked toward the plate and home plate umpire Brian O’Nora quickly intervened to separate the sides and calm things down.

Speaking about his reaction to the quick pitch post-game, Pillar said, "It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for."

"(Quick pitches) are part of the game, it’s just, I’m a competitive guy and 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 he 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 (versus) Seattle. That just all came out in that moment."

For wider context, last year the National Hockey League suspended forward Andrew Shaw, at the time of the Chicago Blackhawks, one game for using a homophobic slur in a game.

The NBA has fined several players for using homophobic slurs, including Kobe Bryant for $100,000 in 2011 after he directed one at an official.

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