Gibbons-Pillar rift ‘water under the bridge’

Arash Madani caught up with Kevin Pillar, freshly recalled from Triple-A, and who’s ready to move on from the incident that originally landed him back in Buffalo.

TORONTO – John Gibbons wiped the slate clean with Kevin Pillar shortly after the outfielder rejoined the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday afternoon, the 25-year-old’s demonstration of displeasure at being pinch-hit for before his last demotion left in the past.

“He said it was water under the bridge,” Pillar recalled. “Leaving under those circumstances weighed pretty heavily on me when I first went down there. We didn’t have much conversation up until that point right there. It was definitely a relief.”

On the day the triple-A Buffalo Bisons named him their team MVP, Pillar was recalled by the Blue Jays, ending a banishment that began after he threw his bat and whipped down his batting gloves after being pinch-hit for by Gibbons in a June 24 game against the New York Yankees.

He was demoted right after the game, and one of the things he worked on back down in triple-A was being more disciplined in expressing his emotions.

“I don’t think I’m not going to play with emotion because of what happened, it’s just about controlling the emotions and understanding at this level that the camera is always on you,” said Pillar. “You can’t have a moment of weakness, a lapse of judgment like I did. There’s definitely a lesson learned, I went down there and became a better person for it and wanted to prove to this organization that what happened was a one-time thing, it won’t happen again and I learned from it.”

Pillar, promoted for the third time this season, played in 100 games for the Bisons this season, batting .323 while leading the International League with 39 doubles. He also posted a slugging percentage of .509 with 27 stolen bases.

In 26 games with the Blue Jays prior to Tuesday he’s hitting .225 with three doubles and two RBI.

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Gibbons believes it was time to give Pillar a new opportunity.

“That was over the day he left. There are no grudges around here,” he explained. “One thing about Kevin, he’s very intense, he wants to be successful, he earned his ride back. He was playing some great baseball down there, he gives us a few more options up here with some speed and his defensive game, as well. …

“This is an emotional business, things happen, but you can’t hold grudges and hold that against the guy. The guy’s a good player, the guy earned his ride back here, and we need him here because he can help us. If you punished somebody every time something went wrong or you had a disagreement, you probably couldn’t field a team. It’s good to have him back.”

REIMOLD OUT: To make room for Kevin Pillar, the Blue Jays designated outfielder Nolan Reimold for assignment, a move that also leaves an open spot on the club’s 40-man roster that may be earmarked for top prospect Daniel Norris.

While the left-hander allowed six runs over four innings for triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday, he had struck out 32 batters in 16.2 innings over three previous starts for the Bisons, putting himself on the radar for a call-up once rosters expand in September.

Reimold, a waiver claim in July, batted .212 in 22 games with two homers and nine RBI. His error in the 10th inning Sunday helped lead to the winning run in a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

PROTEST DENIED: The Blue Jays’ 4-3 victory in 10 innings Saturday stands after Major League Baseball denied a protest by the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

Manager Joe Maddon issued a protest over what he felt was a late challenge made by Blue Jays manager John Gibbons that was permitted by crew chief Bob Davidson. The rule states no challenge can be made once a pitcher is on the rubber and the batter steps into the box, and Davidson’s judgment was that Gibbons moved to challenge as Yunel Escobar stepped in.

In rejecting the Rays’ protest, baseball officials would have looked to Section K(4) of the Replay Regulations, which addresses the applicability of Official Baseball Rule 4.19 on the judgment decisions by replay officials and/or any violation of rules/procedures.

It states: “Official Baseball Rule 4.19 shall have no applicability to these Replay Regulations. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the Replay Official. Moreover, a violation of any rule or procedure set forth herein shall not constitute a basis for protesting a game.”

Additionally, under major-league rules, the judgment of an umpire is not grounds for a protest.

“Deep down I really had no worries that they weren’t going to uphold that thing,” said Gibbons. “They did the right thing, bottom line is they got the call right and that’s what the whole replay system is all about.”

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