Kevin Pillar didn’t appreciate being pinch hit for, and showed it. The Toronto Blue Jays didn’t like Pillar’s reaction and they demoted him.
The Blue Jays replaced Pillar with Anthony Gose in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s game against Dellin Betances, the New York Yankees’ dominant right-handed setup reliever. Pillar showed his displeasure with the decision, discarding his batting gloves and quietly tossing his bat into the tunnel that leads to the Blue Jays’ clubhouse. While there are other potentially valid reasons for the Blue Jays to replace Pillar with Brad Glenn, manager John Gibbons noticed the dugout display.
“It didn’t help him at all,” Gibbons said. “This is a team game, you know, there’s no room for selfish play. But we’ve been thinking about Glenn for a while anyway.”
Pillar’s performance with the Blue Jays has yet to catch up to his excellent minor league numbers. In 26 games with Toronto he batted .225 with a .520 OPS — far off of the impressive .326/.365/.497 batting line he has posted at triple-A this year. Still, the demotion came as a disappointment to Pillar.
“He wasn’t real happy I know that,” Gibbons said.
Glenn, who’s a right-handed hitter like Pillar, has also enjoyed success throughout the upper minors. He posted a .752 OPS in 36 games at double-A before earning a promotion to triple-A, where he posted a .997 OPS. He has shown power before, with 26 home runs in 2011 and 22 home runs in 2013.
“We’re looking for a little more thump from the right side,” Gibbons said. “Glenn’s got that.”
While it’s possible Jose Bautista could pinch-hit, the Blue Jays prefer to be cautious with the slugger, who’s dealing with a mild hamstring strain and still hoping to avoid the disabled list. “He feels better,” Gibbons said. “But we want to make sure he’s good and ready.”
While the Blue Jays haven’t told Glenn much about his role, he’ll presumably be used against left-handed pitching, particularly with the Chicago White Sox coming to town with southpaws Chris Sale, John Danks and Jose Quintana.
Selected in the 23rd round of the 2009 draft, Glenn was not in the starting lineup against Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda Wednesday. When he does make his debut, he’s confident he won’t be overwhelmed.
“To tell you the truth I feel a little bit comfortable because seen a lot of these guys in spring training, I’ve played with them in spring training,” he said. “A lot of guys I’ve played with in the past are here, so I feel comfortable.”
So far, it’s simply been a ‘whirlwind’ of arriving in Toronto and getting set up with the organization that first selected him five years ago. But the callup has a greater significance for a player who has played in 591 minor league games. “Year after year just doing what you can to be the best player you can be and just never stopping.”